Letters and Sounds is a six-phase programme designed to help teach children to read and spell with phonics.
Phase 1 (Nursery /Reception)
The aim of this phase is to foster children’s speaking and listening skills as preparation for learning to read with phonics. Parents can play a vital role in helping their children develop these skills, by encouraging their children to listen carefully and talk extensively about what they hear, see and do.
Phase Two – Four (Reception / Year One)
Phase Two is when systematic, high quality phonic work begins.
During Phase Two to Four, children learn:
- How to represent each of the 42 sounds by a letter or sequence of letters.
- How to blend sounds together for reading and how to segment (split) words for spelling.
- Letter names e.g. through an alphabet song. There is some debate as to when letter names should be introduced, but it is generally best to leave teaching letter names until children are secure with the alphabet letter sounds, as these are what are important when learning to read with phonics.
- How to read and spell some high frequency ‘tricky’ words containing sounds not yet learnt (e.g. they, my, her, you).
- The Letters and Sounds Programme suggests an order for teaching the letters, and a fast pace of one Set per week. It recognises, however, that children’s personal experience of letters varies enormously. Most importantly, it progresses from the simple to the more complex aspects of phonics at a pace that is suitable for the children who are learning.
Children learn new ways of representing the sounds and practise blending for reading and segmenting for spelling.
Phase Six (Year 2)
During this phase, children become fluent readers and increasingly accurate spellers.