What is phonics?
Phonics is the process of learning to read using sounds and symbols that combine to create a phonetic alphabet that can be used to blend words together. In Phase 1 phonics, your child may learn all about different sounds in the world around them and begin to discover a wide variety of ways for making different sounds of their own.
During the early phase of phonics, your child will begin to explore sounds around them. They will learn about environmental, instrumental and body percussion sounds. They will learn to name and identify some of these sounds, giving an opinion of which sounds they like or dislike.
When exploring environmental sounds, your child may describe and name the different sounds that are present all around them, from washing machines, phones ringing, a creaky door and other indoor sounds, to the rustle of leaves, vehicle noises and other outdoor sounds.
They could discover the different types of sounds that different instruments produce, recognising the simple differences between the noise made by a piano and guitar, for example.
Songs and rhymes are a great way for your child to explore sounds. Repeating patterns and rhythms can both help to give your child a regular sequence to follow and repeat while practising using and making different sounds.
Your child will begin to explore alliteration and voice sounds. Alliteration is when the same sound occurs at the beginning of a set of words (for example, dig, dog, dot). This is called an initial sound. They will start to learn to match two items that have the same initial sound and spot which sound appears at the beginning of different words. Voice sounds are when your child uses their mouth to create specific, targeted sounds. They will begin to practise forming different sounds using the shape of their mouth and position of their tongue, making sounds like ‘weeeee’, and making sounds louder or quieter by shouting or whispering. They will also begin to copy robot and sound talk (where the sounds, or phonemes, are said separately, e.g. c-a-t, p-i-n).
Once your child has started to use robot and sound talk, they may be ready to begin using oral blending of words. Blending is the process of joining sounds together to form words (for example, t-a-p → tap). Your child could start to count and clap the phoneme sounds found in CVC words (consonant, vowel, consonant - dog, cat, mat, leg) before blending the whole word. For example, d (clap 1), o (clap 2), g (clap 3), dog (clap 4).