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Jolly Phonics?


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Hi all, I am going back into nursery teaching after a year away and can't wait to start my new job in a fantastic private nursery. The only thing worrying me is that the old teacher of the 3-5 year olds used to do Jolly Phonics with the children and some of the more capable ones were reading Oxford Reading Tree books. As soon as I heard the word 'phonics' I froze in fear - I had always thought that unless the children are really able, phonics should be left for reception, and in nursery the focus should be on Phase 1 of Letters and Sounds, particularly initial sounds, rhyming, distinguishing sounds etc. It seems to go against everything I have been taught, especially for the little ones; children need to know the sounds around them before they know the sound a letter makes.

 

Any advice, or am I just being paranoid?

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I've got a lovely powerpoint (at work not here so can't share it, sorry) with all the jolly phonics songs on it so the children can have fun listening to the songs and can maybe start to do the jolly phonics actions and say the sounds when they are ready. There's a different short song for each sound that has lots of alliteration and incorporates the sounds separately too (e.g. a a ants on my arm, a a ants on my arm, a a ants on my arm, causing me alarm- to the tune of skip to me lou... or whatever that song's called!!)

I think it came from somewhere like TES so it might be worth doing a search and see what you can come up with.

 

To be honest I've been really impressed with jolly phonics. My class picked up the sounds and actions really quickly and loved doing it. It's no different really to doing an action rhyme but they learn to link the actions and sounds to letters. I think if they are capable of learning the letter sounds and enjoy doing it, why wait? And it really helps them when they start to sound out words.

 

And you can still do all the phase 1 activities too :)

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May be putting my head above the parapet here but, as a Reception teacher, I would have thought formal methodical teaching of letter recognition, actual phoneme grapheme correspondence is best left until children enter Reception. Obviously they will have experience of letters in Nursery, recognise letters of importance to them - letters and sounds in their names, and their friend's names etc. There is so much in phase 1 which can be extended to develop early phonic skills. On the other hand I suppose each child should be treated individually and developed at their own level. I just feel that those who are 'ready' will easily pick up letters and read, there are so many who are not ready, cannot differentiate sounds in the environment, cannot physically make sounds with their mouths and tongues, cannot blend and segment and I feel these should be given priority in nursery as these are the children who need the extra support, the more able will achieve anyway, I am not saying ignore the more able but the middle and lower ones need a lot of support and teaching. Hope I don't get excommunicated here!! Just an opinion...

My Reception class love Jolly phonics, it works well, and those who already recognise some graphemes enjoy it too, we try to extend them with letter names ( a bug bear for me - why do they need to know letter names in Reception - for the profile) and focus on formation too.

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Im in the 'generally wait until reception' camp too on this one. There are no gains to be made teaching phonics routinely to 3 year olds. Yes, some children will start to recognize letters and you can support this in their play as you would anything else.

There is plenty that can be done to support their tuning in to sounds using the phase one materials, as yalisrib and iri suggest, and if children are really familiar with these activities they pick up the phonics very very quickly. And also spend time creating a love for books, and lots of opportunities for children to talk.

 

However, if you really really believe that you should be teaching phonics to your 3 and 4 year olds, (or are pressured to) then please please ensure you get the sounds correct. I cant even begin to tell you how often I hear settings say ''c' is for Charlotte' and 't-uh; m-uh' etc.

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Thanks Iri and mundia, sounds like we are all in the same camp. I've decided that to begin with, I will alternate between Jolly Phonics and Letters & Sounds. After a couple of weeks hopefully I would have established how the children are with both of these and then use Letters and Sounds as the main focus for carpet sessions and have activities avaliable to the whole class, whilst I can use Jolly Phonics in smaller groups specifically targeted at the children who are secure in Phase 1 L&S (although open to all who want to have a go)

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