Learn to Read with Phonics: A Parent Guide 

If you have a child in their first year of primary school, there is a good chance you will have come across the word 'Phonics'.

Phonics is a method of learning to read words that is taught from the start of Reception. 

Read on to find out how your child uses phonics at school, how to correctly say the 44 phonics sounds, and how you can help at home. 
What is synthetic phonics? 

Synthetic phonics is a way of teaching reading. Your child will be taught two crucial things when they are learning to read using synthetic phonics: 

  1. How sounds are represented by written letters. For example, they will be taught that the letter ‘m’ represents an mmm sound. 
  2. How sounds can be blended together to make words. For example, they will be taught that the sounds of the letters ‘c-a-t’ blend together to make the word ‘cat’. 

Your child will be taught to read letters or groups of letters by saying the sound (or sounds) they represent. For example, they will be taught that the letter ‘l’ sounds like lllll when we say it. Your child will then start reading by blending the sounds together to make words. Another word for this kind of blending is synthesising.


Phonics - Useful Parent Information


How is phonics taught at school? 

At school, your child will first learn a small group of sounds associated with written letters. For example, they will learn that ‘m’ makes an mmm sound, ‘a’ makes an ahh sound, and ‘t’ makes a ttt sound. 

Then, they will be taught to blend these sounds together to read whole words. For example, m–a–t makes ‘mat’. Your child will then learn more sounds and will start blending them too. The order in which the sounds are taught varies depending on the scheme your school uses, so it’s worth checking with your child’s teacher. 

Many schools in the UK use a systematic approach called Letters and Sounds to teach children to read using phonics. This is split into six phases, from learning about sounds at nursery to becoming fluent readers around age 7.  

Watch the following video that shows you the pronunciation of the pure sounds used in the teaching of phonics:


Phonics in Action at St Bart's