Phonics at Spring Hill


First of all, what is synthetic phonics?

English is essentially a code that can be encoded (written) and decoded (read). We need to teach children this code with as much emphasis as possible on the rules and regularities of the written language.
Children are taught that we can make a word from the sounds and then break it apart again when we want to spell it.
Spelling and reading are taught together but children may be better at reading before spelling or vice versa. 
Written English is recognised as being a complex language. We have 26 letters but 44 phonemes in the spoken language. There are a huge number of letter combinations needed to make these 44 phonemes (a phoneme is the technical name for the smallest unit of sound).

Letters and Sounds

Letters and Sounds is a government produced synthetic phonic teaching programme.  Throughout the six phases children will be taught the 44 phonemes.

What do all these technical words mean?

What is a phoneme?
It is the smallest unit of sound and a piece of terminology that children like to use and should be taught.  At first it will equate with a letter sound but later on will include the digraphs.

What is a digraph?
This is when two or more letters come together to make a phoneme. /oa/ makes the sound in boat.

What is blending?
Blending is the process that is involved in bringing the sounds together to make a word or a syllable and is how /c/  /a/  /t /  becomes cat.

What is a consonant blend?
Previously, consonant blends were taught as if there was something special about them. Children were taught that /st/ was one phoneme, when actually it is two, /s/ and /t/.  Think about it.  Why teach /st/ when children already know /s/ and /t/, it just wastes time and clogs up children’s memory.

But note that sh is a diagraph. It cannot be made by a process of blending the two letter sounds of /s/ and /h/ together. 
We need to teach the digraphs not the blends.

For further information please contact the phonics leader - Miss Brown