In school, we follow the ‘Letters and Sounds’ phonics programme.
A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in a word It is generally accepted that most varieties of spoken English use about 44 phonemes.
A grapheme is a symbol of a phoneme. It is a letter or group of letters representing a sound.
Segmenting and blending
Segmenting consists of breaking words down into phonemes to spell. Blending consists of building words from phonemes to read. Both skills are important.
This is when two letters come together to make a phoneme. For example, /oa/ makes the sound in ‘boat’ and is also known as a vowel digraph. There are also consonant digraphs, for example, /sh/ and /ch/.
This is when three letters come together to make one phoneme, for example /igh/.
A digraph in which the two letters are not adjacent – e.g. make
VC, CVC, and CCVC are the respective abbreviations for vowel-consonant, consonant-vowel-consonant, consonant-consonant-vowel-consonant, and are used to describe the order of graphemes in words (e.g. am (VC), Sam (CVC), slam (CCVC), or each (VC), beach (CVC), bleach (CCVC).
Phonics at home
Tips for teaching your child the sounds:
- It is important for a child to learn lower case or small letters rather than capital letters at first. Most early books and games use lower case letters and your child will learn these first at school. Obviously you should use a capital letter when required, such as at the beginning of the child’s name, eg. Paul.
- When you talk about letters to your child, remember to use the letter sounds: a buh cuh duh e … rather than the alphabet names of the letters: ay bee see dee ee . The reason for this is that sounding out words is practically impossible if you use the alphabet names. eg. cat, would sound like: see ay tee
- When saying the sounds of b, d, g, j and w you will notice the ‘uh’ sound which follows each, for example buh, duh… You cannot say the sound without it, however, try to emphasise the main letter sound.