If you have a child in year one at school (like I do) you may have recently been told about the Year 1 Phonics Screening that is going to take place during June.
Academic research has found that the best way of teaching early reading is to teach systematic phonics during reception and year 1 and this check is to ensure that all children have reached a set level of phonic awareness by the end of Year 1 and to identify children who might need more help.
The test contains 40 words divided into two sections of 20 words. Both sections contain a mixture of real words and made up (pseudo) words. All of the pseudo-words in the screening check are accompanied by a picture of an imaginary creature to provide a context for the child (naming the type creature) and to ensure that they are not trying to match the pseudo-word to a word in their vocabulary.
Section 1 words will have a variety of simple word structures (for example CVC, VCC, CCVC and CVCC) using single letters (a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, I, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q(u), r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z), some consonant digraphs (ch, ck, ff, ll, ng, sh, ss, th, zz) and frequent and consistent vowel digraphs (ar, ee, oi, oo,or).
Section 2 words will have a variety of more complex word structures (for example CCVCC, CCCVC, CCCVCC and two syllable words) with some additional consonant digraphs (ph, wh), some less frequent and consistent vowel digraphs, including split digraphs (a-e, ai, au, aw, ay, ea, e-e, er, ew, i-e, ie, ir, oa, o-e, ou, ow, oy, ue, u-e, ur) and trigraphs (air, igh).
The results of the tests will be given to parents but won’t be published (although the
results will be used to generate national standards and monitored over time). Children who struggle with the check should receive additional support so they can catch up
with their peers and then be reassessed at a later date.
Most children will have been taught phonics over their time in nursery, reception and year one and will not have any difficulty with this check. If you want to practice with your child before this assessment the simplest way is to just get them used to sounding out random combinations of letters – don’t forget to include words that aren’t real – maybe draw and name your own phonics aliens!
Other phonics activities and games will also strengthen their knowledge – here are two of our favourite products that support learning phonics: