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Phonics Phases

What are the phases of Phonics?

Phonics is broken up into 6 phases with each phase concentrating on different skills and children should be comfortable with what they have learned in one phase before moving on to the next.


When should children start reading?

Please note that the ages and stages provided here are only a rough guide (especially for phases 1-4). When children do each Phonics Phase will depend on your school and how they implement Phonics. Each child is unique and develops differently to other children. Therefore not all children will be ready to begin learning Phonics or to move on to the next phase at the same time.


Phase 1 of Phonics

In Phase 1 children are learning to listen to and identify sounds that they hear and to remember and reproduce them. Phase 1 of phonics is divided into seven aspects:

1. Environmental Sounds

2. Instrumental Sounds

3. Body Percussion

4. Rhythm & Rhyme

5. Alliteration

6. Voice Sounds

7. Oral Blending & Segmenting

Phase 2 of Phonics

In Phase 2 children begin to learn the most common single (and some double) letter sounds like s, a, t, p, i and n. Children start to blend these sounds to read simple CVC words like pin and mat and they learn to recognise some high frequency and tricky words such as I, no, go, the, to.

Phase 3 of Phonics

In phase 3 children learn the remaining less common single letter sounds and the more difficult double letter (and some triple letter) sounds like oi, ai, igh, oo and or. By the end of this phase, children should be able to:

  • say sounds that they are shown
  • blend sounds in simple words to read them
  • copy letters accurately


Phase 4 of Phonics

No new sounds are taught in Phase 4. Up until phase 4 children were mostly reading and writing monosyllabic words, whereas now they begin to decode more complex words with more than one syllable. Children will come across CVCC words and CCVC words such as lamp and drop. Children become familiar with more high-frequency words and tricky words such as little, one and when.


Phase 5 of Phonics

In phase 5 children are taught some new graphemes (ways to write a sound) and these include more ways to write sounds that they have previously learned. For example, children now learn ph as another way to read and write the f sound. Children will also discover some alternative ways to pronounce some sounds in certain words.

By the end of phase 5 children should be able to recognise and spell around 100 high-frequency words more or less accurately from memory and form (write) each letter of the alphabet accurately.


Phase 6 of Phonics

By the time children start phase 6 of phonics, they should be reading words in three different ways: reading automatically, decoding quietly and decoding aloud. Although children are generally able to read many hundreds of words by now using the sounds that they know and their decoding skills, they learn new spelling rules such as how to add suffixes and use contractions and apostrophes. Read about the spelling rules that are covered in year 2 here. Phase 6 of phonics does not include any new sounds. Instead, phase 6 of phonics centres around reading and spelling.