Abbey Road, Barnstaple, Devon EX31 1JU

01271 342579

Pilton Infants' School

Learning For Life

Supporting your child with reading and phonics.

On this page you will find:

  • An overview of how to help at home
  • Details of online support from our English lead teacher
  • An overview of what phonics is
  • A guide to reading 'tricky' words
  • Videos on how to support reading
  • A guide to logging onto Oxford Owl


Overview of how to help at home. 

 For an overview from Mrs Ruddick about the benefits of bedtime stories, click here:  5 benefits to bedtime stories-YouTube

How to share Lilac books at home:

How to share Pink books at home:

Always supervise children when they access the internet.

Phonics - an overview

How to say the letters.

We want children to learn the letter names and sounds but what's the difference?  Letter names are what we say when we recite the alphabet or when we spell a word for someone.  It's important children learn these and we start to teach them the alphabet from Reception.

What's more useful is the letter sounds. When you know the letter sounds you can begin to sound out and blend (put together to read) words.  The most important thing is to say the sound quickly without adding an ‘uh’ sound after them. 

Here is a short video explaining how to say the letter sounds correctly and why we start with s, a, t, p, i, n.

Of course, letters make different sounds in different words.  Take the letter 'a' for example.  Look at the different sounds this letter makes in the following words:

cat     fast     pizza 

We teach children that letters usually make a certain sound but that there are always exceptions.  This way when they come across something that doesn't work they know they can try other sounds.


Practising at home.

Children need to recognise letters automatically.  A great way to do this is with flashcards. The children are sent home with their new letters in Reception. The more they look at them and say them the more automatic these letters will become.  (It's suggested that children need to read something around 100 times before it becomes 'known').  Stick a new sound on the fridge, the bathroom wall etc and say it as often as possible.  Think of words beginning with this sound.  Look around when you're out and about at shop signs etc for examples of that letter.  Practise writing the letter and saying the sound at the same time.

We don't teach the letters in the order of the alphabet. This is so the children can start to read and make whole words very quickly.  For example, we teach the following letters first: s, a, t, p, i, n  because with these 6 letters you can make lots of little words e.g. sat, pin, pat, pit, tin, sit, it, sip etc.  


What on earth is a digraph?

A digraph is simply a sound which is represented by two letters ('di' comes from the greek for two and 'graph' means letter).  Your children will begin to learn these in Reception.  The most common ones which they will begin to learn are th, sh, ch, ee, oo, ng.  Look out for these in words and point them out.

For more information on some of these terms go to our Jargon Buster page under the Parents page.

Tricky Words

Here are some useful tips on helping your child read 'tricky' words (the words that come up regularly in books and which children can't sound out using their phonics). These word lists can be found on the 'Support your child with spelling' page on the Parent drop down menu.

What are tricky words?

What games can we play?

Videos about how to support your child at home.

The film below is an introduction and there are more ideas further down the page which we hope will answer some of your questions about reading at home.

Film 2 - Do I have to read with my child every night?

Film 3 - How can I help my child who is only just beginning to read?  My child loves books but makes up the words. What can I do?

Film 4 - What is phonics?  What is sounding out?  What is a 'digraph'?  

Film 5 - Can you sound out every word?  What is a camera word?   (These words are also known as tricky words or high frequency words and can be found under the spelling page on our Parent page.)

 Film 6 - What should I do if my child gets stuck on a word?

Film 7 - What can I do if my child reads the words well but doesn't understand what they've read?

Logging on to Oxford Owl 

Here's our guide to logging onto Oxford Owl to access hundreds of books free!

Your child's teacher will give you the username, password and correct level books to read.  If you have any problems, let us know and we'll help you get set up.