How To Follow Development Matters with Phonics Teaching

Written by Dan

Development Matters is an essential resource for early years practitioners in the United Kingdom, offering a top-level view of how children develop and learn during their formative years.

Phonics teaching is a crucial aspect of this development, as it provides the foundation for children’s reading and writing skills.

By implementing phonics teaching within the framework of Development Matters, educators can ensure that they are effectively supporting and assessing children’s progress, as well as engaging parents and guardians in their child’s learning journey.

phonics development matters

One of the key aspects of phonics teaching is understanding the fundamentals, such as the various phonemes, digraphs, and trigraphs that make up the English language.

Systematically teaching these building blocks helps children to recognise and decode words, laying the foundation for their reading ability.

Within Development Matters, the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) outlines various stages of learning and development for children, providing practitioners with a clear structure and guidelines for planning and monitoring progress.

Phonics instruction strategies vary, but some of the most effective methods include focusing on vowels, making multisensory experiences, and providing plenty of opportunities for practice and reinforcement.

By employing these strategies and monitoring children’s progress with assessment tools, practitioners can ensure that they are giving children a solid start in reading and writing.

Involving parents and guardians is also vital to reinforce the skills learnt in the classroom and foster a love for reading at home.

Key Takeaways

  • Development Matters provides a framework for early years practitioners to teach phonics effectively.
  • Understanding the fundamentals of phonics and using appropriate strategies can ensure children’s progress.
  • Assessment, progress monitoring, and parental involvement are essential components of successful phonics teaching.

Fundamentals of Phonics Teaching

Understanding Synthetic Phonics

Synthetic phonics teaches children to read by breaking down words into their individual sounds or phonemes. This approach emphasises the importance of understanding the relationship between written symbols and sounds, allowing children to become confident in their ability to decode words.

In synthetic phonics, learners are taught phonemic awareness, enabling them to identify and manipulate sounds in spoken words before applying this knowledge to reading and writing.

This is a crucial component of systematic synthetic phonics and plays a vital role in a child’s early reading development.

The Role of Phonics in Early Reading

Phonics is the foundation for early reading, enabling children to acquire the necessary skills for decoding and understanding written text.

Through systematic phonics instruction, children can build their knowledge of letter-sound relationships, empowering them to read new words. Research has shown that when phonics is taught in a structured way, it is the most effective method for teaching young children to read.

Additionally, comprehensive phonics teaching should encompass the following elements to ensure effectiveness:

  1. Direct teaching in frequent, short bursts
  2. Consistency of approach
  3. Secure, systematic progression in phonics learning
  4. Maintaining pace of learning
  5. Providing repeated practice
  6. Application of phonics using matched decodable books

To maximise success in early reading, it is essential for educators to incorporate these elements into their phonics instruction.

Decoding and Word Recognition Skills

Decoding and word recognition skills are crucial for children’s reading development. Decoding is translating written symbols into the sounds they represent, or phonemes.

Word recognition refers to a reader’s ability to identify written words without conscious effort effortlessly. Through systematic phonics teaching, children develop both decoding and word recognition skills, allowing them to read with increasing fluency and comprehension.

A crucial aspect of phonics instruction involves providing students with ample practice in recognising common words and phoneme patterns.

As children become more proficient, they can apply their phonics knowledge to decode unfamiliar words and develop their reading skills. As a result, teaching phonics effectively is key to fostering strong decoding and word recognition abilities in young learners.

Development Matters Framework

Key Principles and Aims

The Development Matters framework is a crucial part of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum that guides early years practitioners.

Focusing on childcare providers such as nurseries, nursery schools, and reception classes, the framework offers valuable information on children’s development and learning.

The EYFS statutory framework emphasises prime and specific areas of learning. The prime areas include:

  1. Communication and language
  2. Physical development
  3. Personal, social, and emotional development

The specific areas are:

  1. Literacy
  2. Mathematics
  3. Understanding the world
  4. Expressive arts and design

Development Matters aims to:

  • Understand and track children’s development
  • Provide suitable conditions for each child’s learning and development
  • Observe and assess their progress
  • Share information with parents and other educational settings

Implementing the Framework in Settings

To successfully implement the Development Matters framework in EYFS settings, early years practitioners must consider the distinct stages of children’s development.

The framework outlines the expected learning milestones, aiding practitioners in determining if a child exhibits typical development for their age, is at risk of delay, or is ahead of the curve.

When incorporating phonics teaching, it’s crucial to integrate it with the literacy aspect of the EYFS curriculum. In settings such as nurseries and nursery schools, Phase 1 Phonics is significant.

It focuses on developing children’s speaking and listening skills, preparing them for more comprehensive phonics learning later on.

Teachers can create a phonics-rich environment in a nursery or reception class that encourages children to explore sounds and words. Some strategies include:

  • Providing a variety of books and materials
  • Using songs and rhymes to stimulate sound and word recognition
  • Encouraging children to engage in sound and letter activities, such as sorting objects based on their initial sounds

By following the Development Matters framework, early years practitioners can effectively support children’s development and learning.

By incorporating phonics teaching, they can help children build a strong foundation in literacy, setting the stage for success throughout their educational journey.

Phonics Instruction Strategies

Teaching Phonics in Small Groups

One effective approach to teaching phonics is by conducting lessons in small groups. This setting allows more personalised attention and focused instruction for each child.

Small groups enable educators to cater to individual learning styles, making it easier for children, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to grasp phonetic concepts.

This proves particularly beneficial when using a validated phonics programme, as it ensures that all children progress steadily in their reading development.

Resources and Materials

Utilising a variety of resources and materials in a phonics programme is crucial for successful teaching and learning.

A well-structured phonics scheme may include decodable texts specifically designed to allow children to apply and practise their phonic skills.

Additionally, engaging phonics strategies can involve using interactive whiteboards, flashcards, and online games, providing diverse and stimulating learning experiences for children.

Here’s a list of some resource types to consider:

  • Decodable texts
  • Letter-sound flashcards
  • Interactive whiteboards
  • Online games
  • Formation animations

Engaging Children Through Play

Incorporating play-based activities into phonics instruction helps maintain children’s enthusiasm and engagement. Play-based learning fosters creativity, curiosity, and problem-solving skills, all essential for reinforcing phonics concepts.

For example, using educational toys like alphabet puzzles and magnetic letters can promote active exploration and tactile learning experiences.

Additionally, introducing Phonics Shed Hub, which features educational songs and formation rhymes, can integrate movement and music to stimulate phonics further learning in a playful and enjoyable way.

Assessment and Progress Monitoring

In teaching phonics, following the Development Matters framework requires regular assessment and progress monitoring to ensure children’s learning is on track.

This section will discuss three critical assessment and progress monitoring aspects: the Phonics Screening Check, continuous assessment, and interventions for struggling readers.

Phonics Screening Check

The Phonics Screening Check is a mandatory assessment implemented by the UK Department for Education (DfE) for Year 1 pupils. It helps to determine whether children have mastered the phonics skills appropriate for their age.

The screening test comprises a mix of real and non-words, allowing teachers to gauge children’s ability to decode and blend sounds.

The results of this check are crucial as they provide insight into the overall impact and effectiveness of the school’s phonics teaching. Additionally, they identify students who may need targeted intervention to improve their early reading skills.

Continuous Assessment

Alongside the Phonics Screening Check, continuous assessment is crucial in monitoring children’s phonics development. Regular assessments can be carried out through:

These strategies help educators track students’ progress and ensure they acquire the necessary phonics knowledge to become proficient readers.

Interventions for Struggling Readers

Targeted interventions may be necessary for children who are not making expected progress in phonics. These reading interventions should be based on solid research evidence and tailored to individual student needs.

Tables, groupings, and one-to-one sessions can support and reinforce critical phonics concepts.

Moreover, a validated systematic synthetic phonics programme (SSP) can also help educators and schools achieve better outcomes for struggling readers.

Assessment and progress monitoring are essential aspects of phonics teaching that need to be closely aligned with the Development Matters framework.

Implementing a combination of the Phonics Screening Check, continuous assessment, and effective interventions will significantly improve children’s reading skills and overall success in early literacy development.

Involving Parents and Guardians

Home Learning Support

Parents, childminders, and staff in nurseries play a crucial role in developing a child’s phonics knowledge. Ensuring children receive the necessary support at home can significantly enhance their learning progress.

One way to encourage parents is by sharing tips on fostering a love of reading in their children through daily activities such as reading books, newspapers, and magazines together.

Additionally, providing resources and guidance on how to practice phonics at home can empower parents and guardians.

For instance, teachers may send home phonics homework that synchronises with the topics covered in the classroom. Ensuring that the materials are well-presented and easy to follow can boost the involvement and participation rate among parents.

Communication and Resources

Maintaining open lines of communication between educators and parents is vital for a child’s success, especially in the reception years. Teachers should keep parents informed about their child’s progress in the context of phonics learning and share any concerns or achievements.

Utilising various communication methods, such as phone calls, emails, and parent-teacher meetings, can create a stronger partnership.

Offering parents access to essential resources can further support at-home phonics practice. These could include activity ideas, online games, or printable materials that have been evaluated for their relevance and accuracy.

In addition, teachers may recommend age-appropriate books that focus on specific phonetic sounds to help a child solidify their understanding.

Involving parents and guardians in their child’s reception phonics journey contributes to effective learning.

By providing ongoing support, resources, and maintaining open communication, parents and educators can work together to ensure children make the most of their phonics education.

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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