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Phase 1 Phonics in Nursery

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by hyssop_puppy, Jul 9, 2011.

  1. I've been reading through a very old thread on the subject of teaching phonics in Foundation, where lots of people were discussing Nursery practice.
    There is very little doubt that good phonics teaching has a big impact on young children's reading and writing - I can hardly believe the difference in progress across the ability range at the end of FS compared to relatively few years ago.
    As the thread I read was old I would be interested to know whether the introduction of Letters and Sounds in the meantime has made a difference to phonics in Nursery.
    Do Nursery teachers now concentrate on the skills laid out in Phase 1? I receive children from a range of Nurseries, including our own Nursery class, so there is always a range of previous learning and knowledge. What I do notice many, in fact a majority of children have in common is that they are not secure with Phase 1 skills, particularly distinguishing different sounds in spoken words, and oral blending and segmenting.
    I feel that there is rather a rush to introduce grapheme/phoneme correspondences, whether cildren are ready or not, but more importantly to the detriment of these earlier oral/aural skills.
    Is this widespread?
  2. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Being secure in phase 1 of L&S isn't a precursor to phase 2,3,4,5 or 6 it is something that should run alongside all other phases.
    Having said that we don't use L&S
  3. The argument is that children who know grapheme phoneme correspondences will have the knowledge needed to blend sounds to make words for synthetic phonics, because they see the letter and know the sound. Some see this as the first stage and rather dismiss the blending/segmenting of sounds stage as unnecessary. Certainly, listening to words and hearing/ saying the sounds within it is analytic phonics rather than synthetic phonics. 'Letters and Sounds' suggests that phase 1 continues alongside the other phases.
    So the question is, how necessary is stage 1 to the development of reading skills? As a nursery teacher my experience is that it is more necessary to some children than others and is beneficial to all.
    Some children are able to understand and apply the idea of listening to their own voices and utterances from others to distinguish sounds, instead of always listening to access meaning. Where this is the case stage 1 is short and unproblematic and these children are ready quickly to move on to stage 2.
    But I find that some other children find it very difficult to listen to the sounds in words. I think this is because they access language on a very literal level and reply to the question, "What sounds can you hear in 'cat'?" with, "miaow"! Being able to distinguish between the word's meaning and its existence as a series of sounds is actually rather sophisticated, especially for children for whom language, meaning, understanding, listening and talking are in their early stages. The problem is that these children can learn GPCs by rote and grasp that when you see 'c' you say /k/, but they can't apply that knowledge seamlessly, so they run into difficulties when hearing and blending a series of sounds which requires listening to the sounds their voices are making and discerning the word. You get a situation when children can sound out "d....o...g" printed under a picture, and then say, "puppy".
    It comes down to listening skills - which is what stage 1 is all about. Listening to others, listening to themselves - for sounds and not for meanings. So stage 1 is essential for all children - it's just that some children pick it up easily and others don't. In nursery we work hard at stage one with games like 'I spy' and 'robot speak', but move on to stage 2 with some children as soon as they are ready. We also introduce GPCs to children who are less 'ready' and able to distinguish speech sounds, but alongside stage 1, always being aware of the links these children still need to make before phonics will click for them.

  4. I completely agree that Phase 1 runs alongside all phases.
    I also agree that even in Nursery some children are ready to move on and I wouldn't advocate holding them back.
    My real point is that I am receiving children who have been rushed on to the detriment of their developing Phase 1 skills, which I think are crucial to the successful application of the knowledge gained in later phases.
    I think, as you said thumbie, move children on who are ready, but keep working hard with others on Phase 1.
    I'm sure this isn't really a ground-breaking idea - it's me steeling myself for the (repeated)conversation I must have with my Nursery teacher!!

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