The Who the Where and the When of Fast Phonics

September 21, 2016 6:48 pm Published by

Last week it was reported nationally that schools should be alerting children to on-line porn. Today Sophie Jamieson reports in the London Daily Telegraph that ‘five million adults lack basic reading, writing and numeracy skills,’ and that ‘the traditional 3Rs are in decline in the UK.’ Could there be a correlation between last week’s report and today’s? Of course there is very much a correlation. If we continue to remove chunks from the teaching day for socio-political issues vital though these issues may be, then of course, the time left for subjects like reading, writing and maths is further diluted.

Now, reading. We’ll turn our attention to long vowels. The vowels in our language are a e i o u all the other letters are called consonants. Almost every word in our language has at least one vowel and I think this makes English fairly simple to learn, to read and write. Sometimes a short vowel ‘a’ as in bat, ‘u’ as in umbrella, can become a long sound by adding ‘e’, usually at the end of the word


bit becomes bite.

rat becomes rate.

rot becomes rote

cut becomes cute.

When a version of phonics was introduced to schools around eight years ago children were told this short vowel to long vowel is called a ‘split digraph’ and technically it is. However, always a beggar for simplicity, for me it is ‘magic e.’

We chant:

magic e makes a say (aye)

magic e makes i say (eye)

magic e makes o say (oh)

magic e makes u say (you)

Now your reader knows:

The phonic alphabet.

Sight words:

you, the, they, I, me, no, little, your, we, beautiful, come, go, to, be, she, saw, my, house, was, do, for, he.

oo, ee, sh, wh, th, ck, ch.

‘y’ on the end of a word.

Magic e (split digraph).

And how your child’s reading vocabulary is expanding!

‘Rabbit hopped off and came across a little green ant. He asked the ant to come and help poor Jake.

The ant hopped on the rabbit’s back and off they went back to Dame Cratchett, Jules and poor sick Jake.’


‘Luke, the beautiful little kitten on the roof of your doll’s house will shake that tile while he jumps and skips. Back on the path, Luke is a happy cat that likes the grass to sniff and to rock.’

Our slow, easy and logical progression is already making your child an excellent reader. He is using sounds, like keys to decode every word. I promise, any word containing only the sounds I have given will be able to be read by your child.

Try: ‘crush,’ ‘discuss,’ ‘bike,’ ‘contented,’ ‘smile.’ None of these words has to be learned and remembered. Every word is decoded. Think of as many stories as you can, but a word of warning. Although ‘magic e’ is simple to learn and to chant, it is often forgotten by your eager reader. I always draw a little semi-circular line from the first vowel to magic e. If I link them, then they’re not missed.

As promised; the Who, the Where and the When of teaching.

The WHO. Who can teach? Mum, dad, carer, babysitter, big sister, big brother, aunt, uncle, Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all. Fast phonics, as you will be noticing, is not just fast, it is dead simple as well. I have had a three year old teach herself.

Naomi visited me with her slightly older brother who was being tutored with a small group of girls. Naomi heard me tell the girls I would give a sleeping baby fairy doll (nothing special, I dressed it myself) to the first person to learn all the sounds. Her heart lusting after that doll, she asked me for a phonic chart. Each day she would sit in front of the chart and ask her mother, ‘What is the next sound Mum?’ and three weeks later I was making a fairy doll for a self motivated three year old. Six weeks from my giving her the chart she was stringing her phonics together and reading across words. So Naomi the soon-to-be prolific little reader whose reading, comprehension and author appreciation was always spot on, began reading all by herself.

Jon’s mum taught him, with my phonics when he was four. Then when he was five Jon taught a small friend all the sounds and tested him each ‘lesson.’

As you are seeing for yourself my phonics are dead easy. As long as you make continuity and accuracy your watchwords and never stray beyond the latest sounds you will succeed.

The WHERE. Teach reading anywhere. Involve Uncle Sam and Aunty Sue or the noisy cousins, just make learning fun.

Recently, somebody asked me why should any parent of small children be thinking of GCSE, A levels and University? She had obviously missed my entire point, which is simply putting in place the easy foundations of your child’s future. This is the knowledge upon which he will construct every year, layer by layer, the skills he will need for every test from Key Stage One to his Diploma, Technical Qualification or Master’s. My views are light years from force feeding advanced academic excellence to small tots. Fast phonics is easy, even for very tiny children and, once your child is reading, every year, every new idea and every test will become that much easier for him than for those struggling to work out the simplest text by guesswork.

So WHEN do you begin a reading programme? Absolutely as early as possible and if you object to a small child learning, be aware that your small child is learning every waking moment from birth onward. In addition if your child, of whatever age, struggles to read, that is the perfect time to begin teaching him properly.

Next time the Why, the What and the How.

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This post was written by Alonah Reading Cambridge

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