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Phonics in the EYFS

  • Jolly Phonics

Phonics plays a vital role in a child’s Literacy development. It enables them to decode words in order to read them. However, before we explore phonics, it is first important to understand the order in which we become literate.

Children begin their journey to becoming literate by first being able to listen and understand. You may have noticed that when your child was small, before they could talk very much, they were first able to follow simple instructions or respond to loud or interesting noises. As these skills develop, your child will have begun to speak. Speaking comes second to listening and understanding. It is likely that some of your child’s first words were things that they understood, for example: mum, dad, cup, ball.

It is important to develop listening and speaking skills first as, if these are not developed alongside phonics, children can have difficulty comprehending the meaning of what they have read. Please see last week’s article on how you can help to develop these skills.

As a child becomes more secure in their speaking and listening skills, they can then become firstly good readers and then confident and competent writers.

What can I do at home to help my child develop their phonics skills?

In Foundation Stage 1, the starting point for developing phonemic awareness is to listen to sounds that your child can hear in their environment. When you are out and about, talk about the sounds you can hear. Encourage your child to listen for them too, for example: ‘I can hear a dog barking. Can you hear it too?’ or ‘What is that noise?’. Investigate where different sounds come from and how your child can make different sounds both with their own voice and with objects.

When talking to your child, occasionally break simple, regular words down into their sound components, for example: ‘It’s a cat. C-A-T. Cat.’, so they can begin to hear all the sounds in words. They may start exploring this on their own.

Help your child learn the sounds of the alphabet and the most common regular vowel digraphs. Occasionally point to letters and ask your child to say the sound they make. They may show interest in doing this themselves. Encourage this behaviour and help them to blend the sounds together. For correct pronunciation, please see the following video.

Encourage your child to write and spell notes, e-mails, and letters using what they know about sounds and letters. Encourage them to hear as many sounds as possible but at this early stage, it is advisable not to make too many corrections. Praise what they have got correct so that they are encouraged to keep trying.

For further support in developing your child’s phonics skills, please see your child’s class teacher or the Foundation Stage Leader.