Help your child hear sounds in words

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Help your child hear sounds in words

Say each word slowly, stretching out the vowel sounds so that they can be heard clearly.

house (3: h ou se)

stamp (5: s t a m p)
play (3: p l ay)
shout (3: sh ou t)
tree (3: t r ee)
frog (4: f r o g)
car (2: c ar)
star (3: s t ar)
plant (5: p l a n t)
swim (4: s w i m)

When you say a word aloud, listen for each sound. Then look for how the sound is spelt when written down.

(Stage 1)

Help your child to read simple words
Words at this stage will have 2 or 3 letters and contain the most common representation of sounds:
‘a’ in ‘cat’ ‘o’ in ‘got’ ‘e’ in ‘yet’
‘i’ in ‘sip’ ‘u’ in ‘bun’
Warning! Some words look easy because they are short but are not easy to read or spell, e.g.

‘was’ or ‘car’ The ‘a’ is not the same as in ‘cat’

Help your child to sound across words from left to right, pushing the sounds together at the end.
‘m’ ‘a’ ‘n’ ‘man’
If your child gets stuck ask:

“What sound do you make when you see this….?”

If s/he doesn’t know, simply point to the letter and say the sound:
“This is …..”
Soon your child should be able to read these words on sight.
Read any words that are too difficult for your child.
“Tim had a red balloon.”
S/he might work out some words using picture cues or the sense of the sentences. If so, give lots of praise!
Help your child to write simple words

Ask your child what sound s/he can hear, moving left to right across the word. If s/he can hear the sound but does not know how to write it, simply show how to do it. “This is ‘m’.


Build words together, using magnetic letters or letters written on paper squares. Change one sound at a time.







Encourage your child to write as much as possible. Don’t worry if most of it is miss-spelled! Talk about what your child has written ,e.g.

Concentrate on building confidence and enjoy watching what your child can do!

(Stage 2)

Help your child to read simple words
Words at this stage will have 4 or 5 letters and still contain the most common representation of sounds:
‘a’ in ‘hand’ ‘o’ in ‘stop’ ‘e’ in ‘bled’
‘i’ in ‘flip’ ‘u’ in ‘spun’
Your child may find it hard to blend so many sounds together and will need lots of practice!

Encourage your child to read words in books.

Build nonsense words and change them sound by sound:

‘fisp’ ‘fasp’ ‘tasp’ ‘tisp’
(This will help your child to read words quickly and to work out longer, multi-syllable words in the future)

Help your child to hear syllables in words
Say some longer words. Ask your child how many beats in the word.

batman (2: bat man)

elbow (2: el bow)
banana (3: ba nan a)
elephant (3: el e phant)

farmer (2: farm er)

magic (2: ma gic)

Your child might split the words in a different place. e.g. elb ow

ban an a
It does not matter where the word is split if the child hears the right number of syllables of beats.

Ask the class teacher for advice if you get stuck!

(Stage 3)

Help your child to read longer words
Words at this stage are multi-syllable but still contain the most common representation of sounds:
‘a’ in ‘batman’ ‘o’ in ‘hotdog’ ‘e’ in ‘jetlag’
‘i’ in ‘visit’ ‘u’ in ‘sunset’
(There will not be too many of them!)
Look for words in books and newspapers and encourage your child to read them syllable by syllable.
‘sun’ ‘set’ ‘sunset’
Help your child to write longer words
Encourage your child to hear the syllables first and then to write the word, one syllable at a time.
“How many syllables in ‘robin’?”
“What is the first syllable?”
“What sounds do you hear in ‘rob’?”
“What is the next syllable?”

“What sounds do you hear in ‘in’?”

Stage 4

Help your child understand that sounds can be represented by more than one letter
At Stage 4, this includes sounds represented by double consonants e.g.

hill puff rabbit kiss kitten - Your child will already recognize these sounds when a single letter is used.

Warning! Double letters representing vowel sounds are more complicated e.g. ‘ee’ is not the same a ‘e’ in ‘get’ ! Your child will meet these later on. In the meantime simply read words that your child doesn’t know.

At stage 4, the following sounds are also introduced:
ck - ‘sock’ th – ‘with’ ar- ‘park’
sh - ‘fish’ ng – ‘sing’
ch - ‘chip’ qu – ‘quack’

Word Investigation


elp your child to build words on paper squares. Make sure that he puts both letters on one square if they represent one sound! e.g.

Continue to read plenty of stories and poems to your child. Look for words your child will now be able to work out, including words containing the new symbols your child has been learning (ll, pp, tt, bb, nn, mm, ck, ch, sh, th, ng, qu) Encourage him to have a go.

If your child gives each letter a sound e.g.

‘s’ ‘h’ ‘o’ ‘p’,

ask if this makes sense! If he does not work it out, simply point to the ‘sh’ and say “This is ‘sh’.”

Read any words your child is not likely to know yet.

Stop frequently to talk about the meaning of the story of information that you are sharing.

Remember! When talking about sounds represented by more than one letter say:
“This is….. e. g. ‘ch’

Don’t use letter names or talk about letters ‘coming together to make sounds’!

Stage 5-6

Help your child understand how words are spelt
At stage 5 children learn that:

The same sound can be represented in different ways e.g. see we eat

The same spelling can represent different sounds

e.g. we get

At stage 6 children explore multi-syllable words that contain stage 5 information e.g. ‘happy’ ‘happiness’

They also discover words with special endings e.g.

‘station’, ‘special’, ‘treasure

Word Investigation
You child will be given home list of words to investigate.

  • Encourage your child to identify the target sounds e.g. eat see

  • Help your child to sort the words according to how the target sounds are spelt. e.g.

















  • Look for words containing the target words in text e.g. “Tony sees a green frog in the field.”

Children will begin to learn how to spell important, high-frequency words. They will do this as they investigate each target sound.

Help your child to identify parts of words that are tricky to remember e.g. which ‘ee’ is in ‘feed’?

He/she may like to:

  • underline the tricky part in a different colour of ink

  • think of other words containing the same spelling and link them together in a silly phrase or sentence e.g. ‘feed green trees’

  • write the word several times to make a pattern


It is important to let children learn though investigation and discovery. Give your child plenty of praise when he/she attempts something new and join in the discovery too! Point out things you are noticing for the first time and help your child to make connections e.g.

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