Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write by developing their phonemic awareness—the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate different sounds used in the English language. Children learn the correspondence between these sounds and the spelling patterns (graphemes) that represent them.

Many children enter Overchurch Junior School with secure phonic knowledge. However, some children need more time to become familiar with the 44 sounds and corresponding graphemes used in English. At Overchurch Junior School, we place a strong emphasis on teaching these children phonics using a cumulative, systematic, multisensory phonics programme to provide them with a solid foundation in reading and writing. Because not all words in the English language comply with the rules of phonics, we also teach so-called ‘sight words’ by repetition and retrieval.

The Teaching of Phonics

Phonics lessons at Overchurch Junior School are taught in small intervention groups five times a week using the Rocket Phonics scheme. The sessions are short, engaging and memorable with an emphasis placed on revising a previously learned letter-sound correspondences, learning a new one, practicing this, and applying this to single word, sentence and text level reading. Children are assessed regularly to ensure they are in the correct group for their ability, and we choose home reading books carefully matched to their phonic level to guarantee reading success.

Throughout Overchurch Junior School, children who are making slower than expected progress in phonics interventions will receive regular revision sessions with a teacher or teaching assistant. These are 5 minute 1:1 interventions where children quickly revise the sounds they have been learning. The sessions are designed to increase the speed at which children recognise and name graphemes. All children receiving Rocket Phonics interventions will be supported daily with both recognising and recalling phonics sounds and reading fluency.

Practising Phonics at Home

Children will bring home a home reading book which is matched to their phonic level. Research shows that reading the same book several times helps children to increase their reading fluency and word recognition, so we recommend reading this book several times with an adult. Alongside the books your child brings home, seek out books that you and your child enjoy reading. Discuss words that present a challenge, breaking them down into their component sounds in order to read them if necessary. Make sure you set aside quiet time for reading and enjoying books together.

In addition to books, your child will bring home packs of words that can be decoded using their phonics knowledge. Practise reading and spelling these words. Play fun games with them such as thinking of words that rhyme. They are a mixture of decodable words (words that can be sounded out) and sight words/exception words (words in which the English spelling code works in an unusual or uncommon way, which means the words have to be learned and recognised by sight).

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