Frequently Asked Questions
What is Phonics?
Phonics is a tool that is used to teach children to read by remembering the sounds that letters are likely to indicate. Although there are only 26 letters in the English alphabet, there are over 40 different sounds (phonemes) in spoken English.
This means that the process of learning to read the English language can be confusing unless you are taught the different sounds that represent the different letter combinations. A single letter can indicate different sounds (for example, ‘c’ in ‘cat’ as opposed to ‘c’ in ‘cellar’) and combinations of letters are used to represent some sounds (for example, the ‘sh’ in ‘shop’ is pronounced as a single sound and not as ‘s’ followed by ‘h’).
At The Phonics Fox®, sounds are taught in the order that the government stipulates they should be taught in schools. The sounds are not taught in alphabetical order because in the early stages of learning to read, it is more important that children know their sounds than the letters in the alphabet. Learning at The Phonics Fox® will give your child an excellent head start and foundation for learning with both reading and writing.
What will a typical Phonics Fox® class be like?
In each class, we will learn a new sound and will have a theme that is based on the children's interests. This will be centred on a carefully selected story or poem that will be brought alive by our lovable character, 'Phonics' the Fox.
In every class, the children will practise gross motor control through movement and the fine motor skills that are needed for writing. The activities might include: playdough, painting, craft, sensory exploration, sand, role-play and parachute games. These are just a few examples. Each week, the activities will be varied and stimulating.
We will also focus on speaking, listening and understanding skills. These are skills that are not only needed for school, but for life. These skills will be practiced through games and stories.
The sounds will be taught in a carefully planned and structured way. As they become ready, children will be taught the blending and segmenting phonic skills that are needed for reading and writing. These will always be taught in a fun, gentle way with the aim of boosting the confidence of the child and empowering the parent.
Each class will follow a similar pattern for continuity but the games and activities will be different in order to capture the imagination of the child. The classes will cater for kinaesthetic, audio and visual learning styles.
Children won't just be listening - they will be actively involved in their own learning. Child initiated learning will always be encouraged through the materials and activities that are provided for the children to choose from.
Will this interfere with my child's learning at school?
The classes will not interfere with their future learning. The purpose of The Phonics Fox® classes is to give your child a head start at school-helping them to develop the skills they will be taught for reading and writing when they are in Reception. The classes will also give them confidence and make them school ready.
By the end of Reception, all children are expected to be able to read and write. Many of these children have no prior experience of books and are vulnerable to falling behind at such a young age. That is where The Phonics Fox® aims to close this gap. We hope that our classes will encourage active and independent learning that will continue outside of our class times.
All classes are closely planned within the guidance of the government publication,
Letters and Sounds: Principles and Practice of High Quality Phonics (pdf) which is used in all Early Years Provision in Primary schools. We also work within the EYFS Framework, and ensuring that the Prime and specific areas of learning are covered.
Do you use Jolly Phonics?
We are not specifically Jolly Phonics trained or accredited teachers. Anyone can use this method. We useThe Jolly Phonics actions to teach individual phonemes. We do not follow the Jolly Phonics scheme in its entirety or order. We use some material from The Jolly Phonics photocopiable resource book to show how the actions are made. Many primary schools use Jolly Phonics to support their phonics teaching, but if your child's future school doesn't use this scheme, it won't affect your child's learning because the sounds that need to be taught are the same.
How large are your classes?
We try to keep our class sizes small because we find that it enhances the learning experience for children and they can get to know each other really well as a group. However, this does depend on the size of the location too. Average class sizes are 10 children or less but this may go up to 12-15 children depending on venue size, siblings and other factors.
How do you differentiate the learning?
Every child will come to us at a different stage in their learning and may join at different times throughout the year. We use our training, experience and knowledge of our children to try to group them accordingly.
When a child is in their second year with us, we will teach at a greater depth: children may spend more time blending words together or may learn high frequency words, tricky words and captions. We tend to use whiteboards more regularly in classes for children who will be starting school soon. This is so they can practise mark making more formally as they might do in a Reception classroom. However, we never force children to do anything they are not developmentally ready for. We understand that the moment something feels forced / like “work” it may stop becoming enjoyable. Our approach is very gentle and we try to cater for all the individual needs within our classes.