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Parents' guide to Phase 3 phonics

Child reading book
Phonics is a common method used in primary schools to teach children how to read. It involves linking sounds to the letters or groups of letters that represent them. There are different phonics phases that gradually build a child’s knowledge and recognition of sounds so that they can read and write. Here, we explain what Phase 3 phonics are and how they are taught.

What is Phase 3 phonics? 

Phase 3 phonics builds upon Phase 1 and 2 by introducing less commonly used sounds (or phonemes). Depending on which scheme your school follows, there are typically 25 of these sounds, often made up of two letters.

How are children taught Phase 3 phonics? 

Children will be taught more tricky words such as ‘was’ or ‘they’. They will learn the names of the letters and the sounds that the letters make. Teachers may use mnemonics (memory aids), mini whiteboards, word cards and singing alphabet songs to help teach the children these tricky words.

How long does Phase 3 phonics take to teach? 

It typically takes around 12 weeks for children to be taught Phase 3 phonics, and by the end of this period, they should be able to recognise and say the sounds of most of the Phase 2 and Phase 3 symbols (graphemes), blend CVC words, and read 12 tricky words and copy letters correctly. 

What sounds are taught for Phase 3 phonics?

In addition to learning the sounds below, children in Phase 3 phonics continue to practise blending sounds to read simple words and segmenting words into individual sounds for spelling. Tricky words (sight words that cannot be easily sounded out) are also introduced during this phase. The emphasis is on building fluency in blending and segmenting, which are crucial skills for reading and spelling.


How can you help support Phase 3 phonics learning at home?

Supporting Phase 3 phonics at home is a great way for parents to reinforce what children are learning in school and help them develop strong foundational skills in reading and spelling. Here are some suggestions:

  • Read books together, emphasising words that contain Phase 3 sounds. Choose books that include words with consonant digraphs (e.g., ship, chip) and vowel digraphs (e.g., rain, feet).
  • Use phonics games and activities that focus on Phase 3 sounds. There are many online resources, apps, and printable games designed to make learning phonics fun.
  • Create flashcards with Phase 3 phonemes and tricky words. Practise blending sounds to read words and segmenting words into individual sounds for spelling.
  • Use magnetic letters to create words with Phase 3 sounds. Encourage your child to sound out the words and blend the sounds together.
  • There are several phonics apps designed for children that cover Phase 3 phonics. These apps often include interactive games and activities to engage and reinforce learning.
  • Practise writing words that include Phase 3 sounds. Encourage your child to write short sentences and stories, incorporating the new phonemes.
  • Play rhyming games to reinforce the ability to hear and generate rhyming words. For example, you could say a word like cat, and your child can come up with rhyming words like bat, hat, or mat.
  • Introduce and practise reading tricky words. These are words that cannot be easily sounded out and need to be recognised by sight. 
  • Make flashcards or play games with tricky words.
  • Label common items around the house with words containing Phase 3 sounds. This helps reinforce the association between sounds and written words in a real-world context.
  • Celebrate your child's achievements and progress. Positive reinforcement helps build confidence and a positive attitude towards learning.