How do we teach children in EYFS to read?
At Cathedral School we foster a love of reading first and foremost, engaging children in daily storys and songs. We read the children a wide range of high quality texts to not only enjoy but that also help to develop their vocabulary, knowledge of stories and their imagination!

We teach the children in EYFS to read through daily phonics sessions. These short sessions enable children to build up and practise the skills they need to use in reading and writing.

What is Phonics?
The National Literacy Trust defines phonics as
“a way of teaching children how to read and write. It helps children hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another in the English language.”

At Cathedral School we follow a six phase structure known as Letters and Sounds. We use this to plan for and assess children from the beginning of Nursery until the end of Year 2. We also use elements of other programmes such as Jolly Phonics to further enhance our teaching of phonics. Phonics is still taught for those children who require it beyond Year 2 and intervention programmes are put in place .

What are the Phonics ‘Phases’?
Letters and Sounds follows a six phase structure.
Generally the phases are taught as follows, however this can vary based on children’s prior knowledge.
PHASE 1 – Nursery – continuous throughout Phase 2 – 6
PHASE 2 – Nursery and Reception
PHASE 3 – Reception and Year 1
PHASE 4 – Reception and Year 1
PHASE 5 – Year 1 and Year 2
PHASE 6 – Year 2





Please click here to view detailed information about the Phonics Phases.

The programme has a set teaching sequence. Here is the sequence in which the phonemes will be taught through Phase 2 and 3.

How to say the phonics sounds correctly:
It is essential that children say the sounds correctly. Some handy hints that you might find useful:
‘sss’ not ‘suh’
‘mmm’ not ‘muh’
‘t’ not ‘tuh’
‘fff’ not ‘fuh’
Here is a video of Cathedral School children saying the sounds correctly:

This website has an interactive soundwall, where you can hear the sounds pronounced correctly.
Phonics Soundwall
Phonics Terms:
These are terms that you might hear teachers and children say when talking about Phonics.

Phoneme – The smallest unit of sound. There are approximately 44 phonemes in English (it depends on different accents). Phonemes can be put together to make words.

Grapheme – A way of writing down a phoneme. Graphemes can be made up from 1 letter e.g. p, 2 letters e.g. sh, 3 letters e.g. tch or 4 letters e.g ough.
GPC – This is short for Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence. Knowing a GPC means being able to match a phoneme to a grapheme and vice versa.

Digraph – A grapheme containing two letters that makes just one sound (phoneme).

Trigraph – A grapheme containing three letters that makes just one sound (phoneme).

Oral Blending – This involves hearing phonemes and being able to merge them together to make a word. Children need to develop this skill before they will be able to blend written words.

Blending- This involves looking at a written word, looking at each grapheme and using knowledge of GPCs to work out which phoneme each grapheme represents and then merging these phonemes together to make a word. This is the basis of reading.

Oral Segmenting – This is the act hearing a whole word and then splitting it up into the phonemes that make it. Children need to develop this skill before they will be able to segment words to spell them.

Segmenting – This involves hearing a word, splitting it up into the phonemes that make it, using knowledge of GPCs to work out which graphemes represent those phonemes and then writing those graphemes down in the right order. This is the basis of spelling.

What can you do at home?
Here are some suggestions of how you can help your child at home with phonics and reading.
Spread the joy. Show your child how much you value reading. Visit the local library, find signs in the street to read or enjoy a book together at home. You’ll teach phonics as well as grow a lifelong love of reading.
Read aloud. Choose books on topics that excite your child and read with gusto, using different voices for each character. Modelling how you read, and what you do when you come to a tricky word will help to show your child strategies they can use too!
Teach nursery rhymes and songs and make lots of opportunities to sing and recite them. They not only help with language development, but also often involve counting and number problems too!
Play simple phonics word games based on the sounds your child is learning and has learned at school. Some suggested games are
-Start off using just the speech sounds and then immediately say the word. eg …At the shop I will buy a… /m/ /a/ /p/ – map, a /b/ /e/ /d/ – bed, a /d/ /u/ /ck/ – duck. Encourage your child to join in with you after you have this modelled for them. Then say the sounds and ask your child to say the whole word.
-Wizard’s Magic River: Prepare a box/tray with small objects or pictures from around the house (e.g. a peg, a bag, a cup, a pen). Say the words…’Wizard, Wizard can we cross your magic river?’ Ask your child to repeat this to memorise the sentence. You are now the Wizard! Then they say the sentence to you and you reply saying the sounds in order e.g. …’only if you give me the …’ /p/ /e/ /g/. Develop these games further by using word cards instead of objects so your child reads the words.
-Sound Eye Spy: Eg. “I spy with my little eye something that begins with the sound….” or “What other things can you find that begin with that sound?”
-Sound Scavenger Hunt: Write/draw a list of items for your child to find in the garden/house all beginning with the same letter and they have to tick off & say the sound when they find it. Extend these by getting them to add more to the list.
-Hunt for a Sound: Pick a letter and spot everything in the catalog/newspaper/magazine that has the same phonetic sound.

Useful Websites:
Phonics play:

Phonics Hero:

Jolly Phonics Songs on YouTube:


Read With Phonics:

ICT Games:


The School Run

Looking for information on High Frequency Words? Please click here!

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