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 story time 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 to read through daily phonics sessions. These sessions enable children to build up and practise the skills they need to use in reading and writing. Children will also read regularly with an adult in their class.

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.”
We believe that all our children can become fluent readers and writers. This is why we teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme. We start teaching phonics in Nursery and follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised progression, which ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through school.
The programme has a set teaching sequence. Further information on this can be found at

How do we teach Phonics?
Foundations for phonics in Nursery
• We provide a balance of child-led and adult-led experiences for all children that meet the curriculum expectations for ‘Communication and language’ and ‘Literacy’. These include:
o sharing high-quality stories and poems
o learning a range of nursery rhymes and action rhymes
o activities that develop focused listening and attention, including oral blending
o attention to high-quality language.
• We ensure Nursery children are well prepared to begin learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and blending in Reception (though they may be exposed to some sounds in Nursery).

Daily phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1 (and Year 2 where required)
• We teach phonics for 30 minutes a day. In Reception, we build from 10-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers.
• Children make a strong start in Reception: teaching begins in Week 2 of the Autumn term.
• We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised expectations of progress:
o Children in Reception are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and 3 GPCs, and words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4) with fluency and accuracy.
Additionally, children receive a fully decodeable book to read at home, where they can apply the phonic skilss they have learned at home.

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’
Please refer to the parent section of the Little Wandle website for a video containing the correct pronunciation.

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.

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