Teaching phonics - the basics

Purpose of our teaching

The purpose of our teaching is to enable children to become independent and effective readers, in control of written language. Although all the different sounds and their symbols must be learned, the whole experience should be firmly embedded in the complete meaning-making process. We may choose to make use of a published scheme (there is no point in reinventing the wheel) but, as schemes tend to adhere to one approach, we must avoid allowing it to dictate exclusively what happens in the class.

Matching phoneme to grapheme is only one way that children will acquire the decoding skill. It is helpful to consider onset and rime, letter clusters and syllables. It is also important to look at words in their meaningful context, whether thinking about writing your own name or seeing a well-known story in print. Again there will be lots of activity in the room as letters and sounds are painted, sung, drawn in the sand, made by stretching arms and legs, spotted in displays around the school and even grown with cress seeds on bits of felt.

Of course, all the time that this focused work is going on, there will be plenty of other literacy experiences taking place. Everything related to literacy should be perceived by the children as interrelated. They need to be aware that working hard to remember a piece of grapho-phonic information holds the key to being able to read the super story book they shared yesterday