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ELS Phonics at Smitham

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Phonics is an integral part of teaching children the fundamental skills, knowledge and concepts underpinning early reading and writing. For this reason, we place significant emphasis and value on Phonics within our curriculum at Smitham.

We follow the phonics scheme, Essential Letters and Sounds (ELS).  The programme provides a simple, consistent approach to phonics, provided through interactive whiteboard lessons.  ELS keeps routines simple to reduce cognitive load and maximise the chances of success.  More information about ELS can be found at ELS - Essential Letters & Sounds (www.essentiallettersandsounds.org).


Children in Nursery work to develop their listening and attention and speaking and listening skills as well as fostering a love of stories and reading.  Within the spring term, the children then begin to learn two sounds a week and explore the initial sound of their name.  This then supports them as they move into Reception and on to formal phonics teaching.

Every child in Reception and Year 1 take part in a daily phonics session following the ELS programme.  Some children may access additional phonic interventions throughout the day if this needed.  Children within Year 2 and Year 3 may also be receiving phonic teaching.


It is really important that we are saying the sounds correctly when we are supporting children with their reading.  If you are unsure of how to pronounce phonic sounds correctly, the video link below offers support with this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCI2mu7URBc 


To support children's learning at home, each child receives reading materials which are carefully matched to their phonic ability and the learning that has been taken place during their phonics sessions.  These materials are then changed twice a week. Please see our reading progression chart below:


At the end of Year 1, the children will take the phonics screening check. This is a government requirement and is a way for teachers to ensure that children are making sufficient progress with their phonics skills, to read words and are on track to become fluent readers who can enjoy reading for pleasure and for learning.​ The results of this are then shared with parents at the end of the school year. 


Please click on the video below to gain an insight into how we teach your child how to use their phonetic knowledge to segment and blend words for spelling. 

Learning How to Spell Words.mp4

Phonics At Home

Please click on the document below to access the information from the Year 1 Phonics Information Afternoon. This builds upon the foundation skills of the phonics the children have been exposed to in school already and contains information about the Phonics Screening Check in June. 

To find out more information about ELS and how it all works, please click on the link below.  There are also some handy videos which can show you how to support your child with their blending for reading and some Phase 2-5 sounds, along with their rhymes/mnemonics.


To discover how to pronounce the sounds taught within Phase 2-5, click the links below.




Below are some ideas for phonics games and activities at home. 

Sound Jump Game

Have a pile of sound cards for your child to see. These can be written on A4 paper or are simply, magnetic letters from a box. Your child then jumps up with the sound, once it’s called out by an adult.

sound jump


Draw a picture of something that can be sounded out easily i.e. hat/jog/chips. Count how many phonemes (sounds) and draw the lines to represent them. Ensure longer lines represent digraphs (two-lettered sounds i.e. ch/th/ng) and trigraphs (3 lettered sounds). Children to guess letters and have their own go using whiteboards i.e. __ ___ _______ r i ng 

Click on the document below for more ideas of games and some great websites to visit to help your child with their phonics. 

Click on the document below to find out about the key phonics terms:

Please click on the document below to download and print off an ELS sound mat.

Practise phonics tests.

Please see some examples of previous Phonics Screening Tests which you can practise with your child. These will show you what the test will look like.  We will also use these sometimes in school. 

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