Giving your pupils the best gateway into reading and writing is one of the key responsibilities of a teacher. What else can be more important than this in academic terms?
So here are six pieces of advice from us at MonsterPhonics.
1. Phonics charts – make sure you have a large phonics chart up in your room. Put it in a location where there is a lot of traffic, like near the main classroom door. Use it constantly. Find fun ways to identify the graphemes that you are going to learn that day – put a laminated character by the sound you are focusing on. Don’t be frightened to stick post-it notes and flashcards on or around the chart. Refer to graphemes when lining up and encourage other adults in the setting to do the same. Play games – anything that keeps the attention on the chart.
2. Flashcard hunting – once you have introduced your flashcards showing a particular sound then don’t just leave them in a pile. Hide them in the setting – put them in unusual places and get the children used to returning them and saying what is on the card. Put a few tricks in the cards you are hiding as the children start getting good.
3. Tricky words display – have a display where you put 6 – 8 tricky words. The theme for the display should resonate with your class. At MonsterPhonics we have a character called Tricky Witch who casts spells to change the sound of some graphemes in tricky words to confuse people. The magic theme works well but it could be in your classroom a policeman arresting tricky letters or a graphemes burglar. Anything but make it resonate with the children and make sure it is fun.
4. Silent letter display – again makes this interactive and change the words as they are learnt by your class. The silent ghosts in Monster Phonics make the silent letters – tell the children that ghost letters make no sound. Encourage children to add words with silent letters that we may not have thought about, such as ‘chocolate’!
5. Transfer – too often discrete phonics sessions are not backed up by writing for real purposes. Make sure, wherever you can, children are writing using the sounds they know for a purpose or imaginary context.
6. Phonics should be fun – too many schemes concentrate on being systematic. Of course, this is important but so too is bringing the session to life for a young mind. Songs, movement, stories are the lifeblood of a good KS1 learning experience – develop your tool bag and resources to help you ensure children look forward to Phonics lessons.
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