Phonics in Reception 

When pupils start with us in Reception, we build upon what they have already learned in a nursery setting or at home with their grown ups. For example, Phase One phonics involves discriminating between different environmental sounds such as a siren or thunder or a knock at the door. Pupils also discriminate against initial sounds such as a 's' for sock and a 'c' for cat. Through stories, children begin hearing rhyming words too. 

As aforementioned, we continue to teach Phase One phonics throughout Nursery, Reception and Key Stage 1 alongside the new phases we cover during the school year. Phase One phonics gives us the foundations to begin learning Phase Two. This is where your child will begin to learn letters and the sounds they make. During the Reception year, your child will begin learning Phase Two phonics and finish the year having learnt up to Phase Four phonics. 

You may notice that your child uses actions to help them pronounce the different sounds they have learnt. We encourage pupils to use Cued Articulation actions and songs to help them remember and say the sound correctly. 


Your child will learn single letter sounds and digraphs and trigraphs this year. 

Digraph: This is where two letters make one sounds e.g 'sh' like in sh e l f 

Trigraph: This is where three letters make one sound e.g. 'igh' like in  h igh 

Phase One:  Phase One is the very start of your child's journey. It is all about listening to sounds and learning to discriminate between different sounds. The phase focuses on sounds in everyday life rather than sounds in words. Phase One lays the essential foundations for all the learning that follows.

Phase Two: In Phase Two children are introduced to letters (and the corresponding sounds) for the first time. 

Phase Three: In Phase Three children continue to use all the sounds they were taught in Phase Two. In addition, they are taught additional sounds (phonemes) and the letters / groups of letters that represent them (graphemes).

Phase 4: In Phase Four children are not taught any new phonemes or graphemes. Instead, they are taught to further manipulate the phonemes and graphemes they have already learnt. Many of the words children explored in Phase Two and Three were monosyllabic (words of one syllable). In Phase Four, children explore more polysyllabic words (words containing more than one syllable). Many of the words in Phase Two and Three required children to blend approximately three sounds together in order to read them. Phase Four requires children to blend an increasing number of sounds together, in order to read.

Phonics and reading skills in Reception

Once your child has learnt the beginning of Phase Two letter sounds, they will be able to practice segmenting and blending in books. 

Segment: is when you split a word up into its sounds (phonemes), you are ‘sounding it out’. Eg. cat would be c-a-t. 

Blend: is when you say the sounds (phonemes) together to make a word, you are pushing the sounds together. Eg. d-o-g (segment) dog (blend). 

Your child will receive reading books for home that are ‘Phonetically decodable’ this means that all the books your child will receive have words in it that pupils can break down using their phonics skills. The books your child will receive will reflect the sounds they have been learning. For example, if your child had learnt the 'j' sound this week, your child will have a new book containing this sound. We also read with the children in school using the same system - this allows them to really practice and apply their newly learnt phonics sound each week.