What is phonics?


Understanding Phonics

Phonics is a system that helps us understand how words are formed. Words are built out of small units of sounds called phonemes. Phonics is the connection of these units of sound with the letter symbols (called graphemes). Using this system of learning enables fluent reading and writing. If you take the word ‘frog’ for example, although it consists of a single syllable, it contains four different phonemes: /f/ /r/ /o/ /g/.

How does Phonics help my child learn to read?

Phonics contains the building blocks of reading. For your child to be able to read they must have an understanding of the relationship between letters and sounds. Phonics is a vital part of reading and provides your child with the tools to connect printed letters with the sounds they represent.


So how does the Jolly Phonics system work?

There are five main areas of learning through Jolly Phonics. Letter sounds, letter formation, blending, segmenting and tricky words.

Your child starts with the letter sounds and letter formation, before moving on with blending (for reading), segmenting (for writing) and tricky words. This unique system teaches these key skills from the start, in a fun and multi sensory way, ensuring your child becomes a clear and confident communicator now and in the future.

Letter sounds

There are 42 letter sounds formed from the alphabet and digraphs. Digraphs are combinations of letters that make ‘new’ sounds such as: sh, th, and ue.

We break the 42 letter sounds into seven sections that increase in difficulty as your child progresses through the Jolly Phonics system.


Letter formation

We use a variety of multi-sensory methods to teach your child how to form and write letters. From colouring exercises to familiarise them with the letter shapes and easy to follow finger patterns to writing exercises, sticker and craft activities.


Blending is a vital tool in the journey to fluent reading. Your child is taught to merge the various letter sounds that form a particular word together until they can hear and recognise the word. Your child can start to practise this skill as soon as they have learnt the first 3 letter sounds – /s/ /a/ and /t/. This skill will continue to develop as your child begins their journey to fluent reading.



In order to blend the sounds to form words, your child must first learn to recognise the segments that make up the word – understanding where the split between the letter sounds falls. With Jolly Phonics, they are taught to break up each word into the phonemes that form the whole. Recognising, listening and understanding these letter sounds gives your child the best start in their spelling skill level.

Tricky words

As with all things in the English language – rules are made to be broken. We tackle words with irregular spellings separately so your child learns to recognise them without getting confused.

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