Part 4: Identifying the sounds in words

Helpful hints for developing independent writing

  1. After the first few weeks in school, when the children have been taught the correct way to form letters, the teacher can write a sentence of news for the child to copy. As the words are written, the teacher can say the sounds for the regular words and explain that the irregular ones are the ‘tricky’ words.
  2. Before asking the children to start writing their news by themselves, the teacher demonstrates to the whole class. A sentence is chosen, e.g. ‘We went on a picnic and had crisps and lemonade’. Together the class and teacher sound out the words.
  3. If there are tricky words in a section, the teacher can explain about them, and tell the children the correct way of writing them. They would not however expect this to happen in the children’s writing in the early years.
  4. Then the teacher and children all read the sentence together. This helps the children to realise that they can write by themselves.
  5. About half way through the first year most children can write a few sentences by themselves. They should not need to ask for spellings. They are encouraged to listen for the sounds and make an attempt at writing the words. Once they start asking for spellings long queues develop, they lose the flow to their writing and the amount they write is far less. Although spelling is thought of as very important, it is taught at a different time.
  6. With writing, as with reading, the children gradually need to be taught to use the alternative ways of writing the vowels ( a list of these alternative spellings is on page 11 of the Phonics Handbook). For example, initially the children learn that the long ‘e’ is written ‘ee’. Then regular ‘ee’ words can be dictated, such as ‘feet, sheet, keep, peep, weep’, etc. Later the main alternative could be practised by having regular ‘ea’ words dictated, such as ‘cream, seat, eat, meat, heat, dream, treat, etc.