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Parents' guide to Phase 2 phonics

child reading book
Phonics is likely to play a significant role in your child's primary school journey. It helps many children develop the ability to read and spell accurately, often achieved by the end of their second year. Here, we explain what is covered in Phase 2 phonics.

What is phonics?

Chances are, you've heard the term 'phonics' mentioned in the school environment, but what does it entail? Well, it's a method widely used in many primary schools to enhance a child's reading and writing skills. The method involves associating 'phonemes' (sounds) with 'graphemes' (symbols representing the sounds).

You may encounter various phonics schemes depending on the primary school your child attends. While each scheme may have slight differences, generally, your child will be taught using a series of phonics phases gradually introduced throughout the Foundation stage and Key Stage 1.

What is covered in Phase 2 phonics?

During Phase 2 phonics, children learn the sounds that letters make, known as 'phonemes.' Although there are a total of 44 sounds, some composed of two letters, Phase 2 focuses on teaching 19 of the most common, single-letter sounds. These are often grouped into sets (of six sounds) to facilitate learning.

Many schools may begin with sounds such as /s/, /a/, /t/, /i/, /p/, /n/, although this may vary depending on the specific phonics scheme adopted by your child's primary school.

What sounds are taught in Phase 2 phonics?

Here are some of the sounds taught in Phase 2 phonics:

s (strawberry)
a (ant)
t (teddy)
i (igloo)
n (nose)
m (mouse)
d (dog)
g (gate)
o (orange)
c (cat)
k (kite)
ck (duck)
e (egg)
u (umbrella)
r (robot)
h (heart)
b (blast)
f (fish)
ff (off)
l (lolly)
ll (ball)
ss (cross)

Children will also be taught some phase 2 high frequency 'tricky words', such as:

a, an, as, at, and, back, big, but, can, dad, had, get, got, him, his, if, in, is, it, mum, not, on, of, off, up, the, no, to, into, go, I

What reading milestones are expected by the end of Phase 2 phonics?

Generally, by the end of Phase 2 phonics (bearing in mind that every child develops at their own pace), your child should be able to read some vowel-consonant words (at, it, in) and consonant-vowel-consonant words (cat, hot, man) and spell them out. They will also learn some high-frequency 'tricky words.'

How long does Phase 2 teaching last?

Typically, Phase 2 lasts about six weeks. There are usually six phases in total, depending on the scheme chosen by your child's school. There is a Phonics Screening Check that takes place at the end of Year 1, usually in June. This helps the school to establish if any children need extra support with their phonics learning.