Welcome to our phonics help page!

This page should have all the answers you are looking for. It will show you how to say each sound, which terminology to use and what is taught in school. If you have any questions, please speak to your child’s class teacher.

What is phonics?

Phonics is recommended as the first strategy that children should be taught in helping them learn to read and write. It runs alongside other teaching methods such as guided reading to help children develop all the other vital reading skills and hopefully give them a real love of reading.

Phonics consists of teaching the skills of segmenting for spelling and blending for reading.  Simply put, it is hearing the sounds in a word and writing them down to spell it correctly. When reading, it is sounding out a word and sticking the sounds back together to read the whole word.

Phonics terminology…


A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in a word.

Feel/watch how your mouth changes when you say a word, every time your mouth moves/changes shape you are saying a new phoneme, e.g. b-r-i-ck

There are 44 phonemes in the English language


A grapheme is a letter or a number of letters that represent a sound (phoneme) in a word. A three letter grapheme could be igh in the word  b-r-igh-t. There are 3 letters that make one phoneme..

A grapheme can represent more than one phoneme e.g. C = cat and city


Two letters, which makes 1 phoneme. e.g. d-u-ck

A consonant diagraph contains two consonants

e.g.          sh             ck             th             ll

A vowel diagraph contains at least one vowel

e.g.          ai              ee            ar              oy

Split Diagraph

A diagraph in which the two letters are not adjacent e.g. make

a-e is a unit of sound (diagraph)- it is being ‘split’ by the constant k.


Three letters, which make 1 phoneme. e.g. l-igh-t

Oral blending

Hearing a series of spoken phonemes and merging them together to make a spoken word without corresponding to any graphemes (no text is needed). e.g. teacher says “b-u-s” children say “bus”

Blending (links to reading)

Recognising the letter sounds in a written word and merging them together in the order they are written to pronounce the word. e.g. c-u-p = cup

Segmenting (links to writing)

Identifying the individual phonemes in a spoken word and writing them down to form a word.

Our approach to teaching phonics

Essential Letters and Sounds

We are using the Essential Letters and Sounds programme to teach phonics in school. This is an accredited systematic synthetic phonics programme aimed at getting all children to read well and quickly.  The children in Reception and Year 1 have a daily phonics lesson to teach them the skills they need to read and write.

You can find out more about ELS and how to support your child with reading at home by watching this video.

How can I help my child at home?

  • Let your child read their book to you – Your child’s class teacher will send home a weekly reading book that is fully decodable, this means that your child has been taught the grapheme phoneme in class and that they now need to practice blending (reading with increase fluency).
  • Read to your child – share a story to encourage a love of reading.
  • Complete the further phonic activities provided by their class teacher to support your child with phonics. 
  • Give them access to different writing materials to practise writing and forming sounds and words

There are games you can play online at which will help your child practice their phonics skills in a fun way.

Please take time to do these with your child as it will make a huge different to their progress.

You can find out how to pronounce the letter sounds correctly here.

The learning journey – What your child should know by when

Reception (Rainbows)

Year 1