The phonics screening check is a quick check of your child’s ability to decode words using only his or her phonic knowledge. It helps us to confirm whether your child has met the expected standard for a child at the end of Year 1. The check is a statutory requirement for all children in Year 1 and takes place each year in the summer term.
How does the check work?
Your child will sit with a teacher he or she knows and be asked to read 40 words aloud. Your child may have read some of the words before, while others will be completely new. The check normally takes just a few minutes to complete and there is no time limit. If your child is struggling, the teacher will stop the check. The check is carefully designed not to be stressful for your child.
What are ‘non-words’?
The check will contain a mix of real words and ‘non-words’ (or ‘nonsense words’). Your child will be told before the check that there will be non-words that he or she will not have seen before. Many children will be familiar with this because many schools already use ‘non-words’ when they teach phonics. Non-words are important to include because words such as ‘vap’ or ‘jound’ are new to all children. Children cannot read the non-words by using their memory or vocabulary; they have to use their decoding skills. This is a fair way to assess their ability to decode. We often refer to these words as alien words.
We will notify you as to whether child passed their screening by the end of summer term.
Helping your child with phonics
Phonics works best when children are given plenty of encouragement and learn to enjoy reading and books. Parents play a very important part in helping
with this. Some simple steps to help your child learn to read through phonics:
- Ask your child’s class teacher about the school’s approach to phonics and how you can reinforce this at home. For example, the teacher will
be able to tell you which letters and sounds the class is covering in lessons each week.
- You can then highlight these sounds when you read with your child. Teaching how sounds match with letters is likely to start with individual
letters such as ‘s’, ‘a’ and ‘t’ and then will move on to two-letter sounds such as ‘ee’, ‘ch’ and ‘ck’.
- With all books, encourage your child to ‘sound out’ unfamiliar words and then blend the sounds together from left to right rather than looking at
the pictures to guess. Once your child has read an unfamiliar word you can talk about what it means and help him or her to follow the story.
- Your child’s teacher will also be able to suggest books with the right level of phonics for your child. These books are often called ‘decodable
readers’ because the story is written with words made up of the letters your child has learnt. Your child will be able to work out new words from their letters and sounds, rather than just guessing.
- Try to make time to read with your child every day. Grandparents and older brothers or sisters can help, too. Encourage your child to blend the sounds all the way through a word.
- Word games like ‘I-spy’ can also be an enjoyable way of teaching children about sounds and letters. You can also encourage your child to read words from your shopping list or road signs to practise phonics.
- Most schools use ‘book bags’ and a reading record, which is a great way for teachers and parents to communicate about what children have read.
The reading record can tell you whether your child has enjoyed a particular book and shows problems or successes he or she has had, either at home or at school
Useful Phonic Vocabulary