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In St Margaret Mary's we use 'Letter and Sounds' as the vehicle through which we teach phonics. Phonics is the ability to hear and make a range of sounds, recognise letters and to link these letters with the correct sound. In Nursery the children are encouraged to listen to and become aware of different sounds in their environment. They then explore sounds through instruments and body sounds, looking at pattern making with sounds. A large emphasis is made upon the ability to hear, repeat and extend rhyming words through the use of nursery rhymes and word strings (e.g. rat, mat, pat, sat). Alliteration (the use of repeated initial letters such as mop, map, man) is the next aspect and we explore different animal names as part of this. The next aspect encourages the children to make different sounds using their voices. This is important as it encourages them to learn about the different mouth shapes that are needed to produce the sounds of the English language. The final aspect introduces the children to hearing the different sounds within a word and to say them out loud.
Phase 2 of learning begins to introduce individual letter sounds and the children will learn how to shape their mouths to make the sound, to recognise the sound in words, to recognise the sound when written down and then to write the sound. This phase begins in reception and is part of a daily lesson. Phase 3 is a continuation of Phase 2 and introduces the children to the rest of the sounds made by the remaining letters of the alphabet and some of the sounds that are made up of more than one letter (e.g. sh, ch and th).
If you have any questions about the current phase within which your child is learning, please speak to your child's class teacher.
For more information with regards to 'Letters and Sounds' follow the link to some useful videos created by the Department of Education.