What Phonics Is Taught In EYFS?

Written by Dan

Phonics is a crucial component in early years education, particularly within the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework.

It forms the backbone of children’s initial journey into literacy, paving the way for them to become confident readers and writers. But what exactly does phonics entail in the EYFS? How is it taught, and why is it so essential?

In this article, we’ll delve into the world of phonics in the EYFS, shedding light on its methods, importance, and the impact it has on children’s overall development.

Whether you’re a parent, educator, or simply an interested party, join us as we explore the fascinating world of phonics in early years education.

Phonics in EYFS

A. The Role of Phonics in Literacy Development

Have you ever wondered why phonics takes centre stage in early years education? The answer lies in its pivotal role in literacy development.

Phonics, the magical system that links sounds to letters, forms the building blocks for reading and writing.

It’s through phonics that children learn to decode words , transforming abstract symbols on a page into meaningful language.

Imagine being able to unlock the secret language of books! When children understand phonics, they can sound out unfamiliar words instead of merely memorizing them.

This skill is like a key, not only boosting their reading fluency but also their comprehension, enabling them to engage with a wide range of texts and expand their knowledge.


B. The Benefits of Early Phonics Instruction

Early phonics instruction is like planting a seed – it offers many benefits that grow over time.

First off, it fosters confidence. When children can read words independently, they feel a sense of accomplishment that encourages further learning. Secondly, phonics paves the way for spelling proficiency.

By understanding the correspondence between sounds and letters, children can spell words more accurately – it’s like giving them a secret code!

Moreover, early phonics instruction lays a solid foundation for future educational success.

Research suggests that children who receive systematic phonics instruction in their early years perform better in reading and spelling tasks later in their academic journeys.

Understanding How Phonics is Taught in EYFS

A. Key Principles and Teaching Methodologies

So, how do we translate the theory of phonics into practice? That’s where the key principles and teaching methodologies come into play.

Phonics instruction in EYFS revolves around a systematic and multi-sensory approach. The idea is to make learning interactive, engaging, and progressive.

Children initially learn sounds associated with each letter before they gradually move onto blending these sounds to form words.

This is often achieved through fun activities like songs, games, and visual aids that stimulate their senses and make learning more tangible.

Moreover, synthetic phonics – a method where children are taught to connect letters to their sounds and blend them to form words – has proven to be particularly effective. It’s like piecing together a puzzle; each sound is a crucial piece that leads to a complete picture – a readable word.

B. The Stages of Phonics Learning in EYFS

Learning phonics is a journey, and like any journey, it happens in stages. In EYFS, phonics education typically unfolds across six phases.

Phase one focuses on listening skills and sound discrimination. This could be as simple as recognizing the sounds of different animals.

Phase two introduces letter sounds and blending, where children form simple words like ‘cat’ or ‘dog’.

In phase three, children learn more graphemes (letters or groups of letters representing sounds) and start reading two-syllable words and simple sentences.

Phase four involves consolidating knowledge, and by phase five, children are introduced to alternative spellings. Finally, in phase six, they focus on spelling rules and patterns.

Each stage builds upon the last, creating a step-by-step guide to mastering phonics.

C. Phonics and Other Literacy Skills

But is phonics the be-all-end-all of literacy skills? Not quite. While phonics is integral to reading and spelling, it’s just one part of the literacy puzzle.

Other skills such as vocabulary development, comprehension strategies, and a love for reading, play equally important roles. For instance, a child might be able to sound out the word ‘extraordinary’, but understanding its meaning is a different ball game altogether.

Thus, striking a balance between phonics and other literacy skills is crucial. It’s about weaving together different literacy strands to create a well-rounded, confident reader.

Think of it as a balanced diet – each nutrient has its role, and together, they contribute to overall health. Similarly, in literacy education, each skill complements the other, leading to comprehensive language development.

Tools and Techniques for Teaching Phonics in EYFS

A. Overview of Popular Tools and Resources for Phonics Instruction

So, you’re determined to make phonics a cornerstone of your EYFS curriculum. But where to start?

What tools can you wield to make the learning experience more enriching? Fear not – there’s a treasure trove of resources waiting to be explored.

Firstly, there are plenty of educational apps and websites that offer interactive phonics games and activities. With a touch of technology, learning becomes fun and engaging.

Then there are flashcards – a classic tool, but by no means outdated. These handy cards can help children associate sounds with letters visually.

But let’s not forget about books! Phonics-based reading books, often decodable, allow children to apply their phonics knowledge directly.

They provide a sense of achievement as children can read them independently, transforming the abstract concept of phonics into a concrete, relatable experience.

B. Innovative Teaching Techniques and Their Effectiveness

Now that we’ve covered the tools let’s focus on innovative teaching techniques. After all, it’s not just about what you teach but how you teach it.

One such technique is the use of multisensory methods. This involves engaging different senses to reinforce phonics learning.

Think about tracing letters in the sand to understand their shape or jumping on letter mats to blend sounds. By making learning tactile and kinetic, these methods cater to different learning styles and make phonics more memorable.

Another effective technique is the use of storytelling and role-play. Children could act out stories using phonics puppets or participate in letter-themed role plays.

These activities not only make learning interactive but also contextualize phonics within meaningful narratives, thus enhancing understanding.

Case Studies of Successful Implementation of These Techniques

Case Study 1: Multisensory Methods in a Rural School

Let’s look at the Green Meadows Primary School, located in a rural area of Devon. The school struggled with literacy rates and decided to incorporate innovative multisensory methods in their phonics instruction.

Children were involved in various activities such as tracing letters in sand, hopping on letter mats, and even painting letters with watercolours. The results were highly positive.

After a year of this practice, there was a marked improvement in the children’s phonics skills. Not just that, their overall engagement in lessons increased exponentially, leading to better classroom participation and improved learning outcomes.

Case Study 2: Storytelling and Role-play in an Urban Classroom

Now, let’s shift our focus to the bustling city of Birmingham, to the Starlight Academy. Here, the EYFS teachers experimented with storytelling and role-play techniques to teach phonics.

They introduced phonics puppets and conducted letter-themed role plays. Children were encouraged to act out stories using words they learned through phonics.

The results were astounding. This method not only enhanced the children’s understanding of phonics but also developed their creativity, communication skills, and confidence.

By the end of the academic year, the children significantly improved their reading and spelling abilities.

These case studies illustrate the potential impact of innovative teaching techniques in phonics education. They underscore the fact that with the right approach, it is possible to make phonics instruction engaging, effective, and enjoyable for children in EYFS.

Role of Parents and Caregivers in Phonics Education

When it comes to a child’s education, can we really underestimate the role of parents and caregivers? The answer is a resounding ‘No’.

Parents and caregivers play a pivotal role in reinforcing phonics learning at home, providing an essential support system for children as they navigate the world of literacy.

Why is parental involvement so crucial, you might ask? Well, learning doesn’t stop when the school bell rings. Children need to practice and consolidate their skills beyond the classroom, and that’s where parents come into the picture.

By engaging with their child’s phonics learning, parents can ensure that this vital skill is continually nurtured and strengthened.

Moreover, when parents are involved, learning becomes a more personalized experience. They can tailor activities to their child’s interests and pace, making phonics more relatable and enjoyable.

So, the next time your child learns a new sound at school, why not explore it together at home?

B. Practical Tips and Suggestions for Parents

Now that we’ve established the importance of parental involvement let’s explore some practical ways parents can support their child’s phonics education.

  1. Make Learning Fun: Transform phonics learning into a game. You could create simple word puzzles, play sound-matching games, or even embark on a phonics treasure hunt around the house. Remember, when learning is fun, it’s more likely to stick.
  2. Interactive Reading: When reading with your child, encourage them to sound out words using their phonics knowledge. This interactive approach not only reinforces phonics learning but also enhances reading confidence.
  3. Consistent Practice: As with any skill, practice makes perfect. Dedicate a little time each day to phonics activities. This consistent practice can significantly improve your child’s phonics skills over time.
  4. Use Available Resources: Use phonics apps, online games, and books. These resources can provide many engaging activities to support your child’s learning journey.


So, we’ve journeyed together through the fascinating world of phonics teaching in EYFS, haven’t we? We’ve seen its importance, explored popular tools and resources, and even delved into innovative teaching techniques.

That phonics is a cornerstone of early literacy would be an understatement. It’s so much more – the key unlocks the enchanting world of words for our young learners.

From educational apps and flashcards to multisensory methods and storytelling, we’ve seen no shortage of tools and techniques to make phonics instruction engaging and effective.

And let’s not forget the crucial role of parents and caregivers in reinforcing phonics learning at home. They’re the unsung heroes who ensure that the seeds of phonics planted at school continue to be nurtured at home.

Whether you’re a teacher seeking to enhance your phonics instruction, or a parent looking to support your child’s learning journey, remember that every effort counts.

Each sound learned, each word decoded, each story read – they all add up to create a strong foundation for lifelong literacy.

So, let’s keep the phonics flame burning brightly, shall we? After all, the future of our children – the leaders, innovators, and storytellers of tomorrow – depends on the literacy skills we impart today.

Here’s to a future filled with the joy of reading, the power of words, and the magic of phonics!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the 4 types of phonics?

A: Phonics education typically involves four main types: Synthetic, Analytic, Analogy, and Embedded.

Synthetic Phonics: This approach involves teaching children to convert letters into sounds (phonemes) and then blend them to form words.

Analytic Phonics: Rather than breaking down words into their individual sounds, this method encourages children to analyze letter-sound relationships in previously learned words.

Analogy Phonics: In this approach, children use their knowledge of word families (for example, -at or -in) to identify new words that have the same parts.

Embedded Phonics: Here, phonics instruction is embedded in text reading, a more implicit approach that teaches phonics skills in the context of whole language instruction.
Each type has its own merits, and often, a combination of these methods is used in classrooms to cater to different learning styles.

Q: What phonics is taught in nursery?

A: In nursery, phonics education often begins with developing listening skills and awareness of sounds. Children are introduced to the concept of phonics through fun activities such as songs, rhymes, and games. They start learning to identify different sounds in the environment, in words, and then gradually, in simple consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words like ‘cat’ or ‘dog’.

Q: What phonics should be taught in reception?

A: In reception, phonics instruction becomes more structured. Children learn about letter-sound correspondences and start to blend sounds together to read words.

They are introduced to the alphabet and begin to learn the sounds each letter makes. They also start to segment words into their individual sounds to aid in spelling.

Q: What phonics should be taught first?

A: Typically, phonics instruction begins with teaching children the most common sound-spelling relationships, starting with the sounds of the individual letters. Children first learn to recognize the sounds, then they learn the corresponding letter or letters that make these sounds.

Once they have a good grasp of individual letter sounds, they move on to blending sounds to read words and segmenting words into sounds for spelling.

Q: How can parents support their child’s phonics learning at home?

A: Parents play an integral role in reinforcing phonics learning at home. They can engage in fun phonics activities, read interactively with their child, provide consistent practice, and utilize various phonics resources like apps, online games, and books.

Making phonics a part of daily life through playful learning fosters a positive learning environment and makes phonics more relatable and enjoyable for the child.

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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