Updated: Oct 10, 2020
I have spent years in Early Years classrooms so far but have had much less experience in Primary. Come September though, I'll be teaching year 2 and recently I've been wondering about whether year 2 do phonics and if it's anything like what I'm used to teaching in preschool. It turns out they do and that usually, children in year 2 spend the whole year doing the final phase - phase 6 - of phonics.
I've been doing some more research into what exactly Phase 6 of phonics is all about and what stage of reading and writing my future students might be at so that I can be better prepared to support them. You can read what I found out below and will hopefully find the information helpful for you supporting your own kids with their Phonics at home.
What do kids in year 2 do in Phonics?
In year 2 children read and write with much more fluency by being familiar with previously learned phonics sounds and this improves even more as they learn about alternative spellings for sounds and alternative pronunciation for some sounds. Children read longer texts (several hundred words) of fiction and non-fiction both aloud and silently and develop their comprehension skills by asking questions, identifying inferences and summarising what they have read. They build up their list of known high-frequency and tricky words and develop strategies for memorising difficult spellings such as using mnemonics, base words, analogies and syllables.
Children learn to add suffixes to words (eg. enjoyment), including adding -ed to form the past tense (eg. played) and they consider how adding a suffix or prefix changes a word. In Year 2 kids also learn how to use an apostrophe to make a contracted word (eg. can't). Kids apply their spelling knowledge through varied writing activities and implement writing strategies during and after these activities to help them improve even more; these include marking, keeping a spelling log, setting small targets, proofreading and using dictionaries and spellchecker.
What are the phases of phonics?
There are six phases of phonics taught to children from the Early Years up to the end of year 2. Read more about each of the six phases of phonics here.
What Phonics Phase should Year 2 be on?
Throughout Year 2, children are taught Phase 6 of Phonics although at this stage phonics and English overlap a lot and integrate with one another rather than being very distinct areas of learning.
By the end of Year 1, kids would have completed Phase 5 of Phonics and be able to write sounds that they hear and say any grapheme that they are shown. Kids are then ready to begin Phase 6 of phonics at the start of year 2, which they carry on with through the whole academic year.
Year 2 Spelling Rules
Although kids in year 2 are generally able to read many hundreds of words now using the sounds that they know along with their decoding skills, kids also learn spelling including how to use suffixes, contractions and apostrophes in English. Read about the spelling rules that are covered in year 2 here.
Phonics sounds for Year 2
In year 2 kids usually do phase 6 of phonics which does not include any new sounds.
In year 2 Phonics centres around reading and spelling.
Children develop their fluency in reading and also improve their spelling as they cover several new spelling rules and common exception words as well as developing their comprehension and writing strategies.
Children will also cover the following in phonics during year 2:
the past tense
spelling long words
how to find the difficult part in a word and learn it
At this stage, kids are transitioning from learning to read towards 'reading to learn' and reading for pleasure or enjoyment.
Reading in Year 2
By the time kids start year 2 and begin phase 6 of phonics, they will be reading words in three different ways: reading automatically, decoding quietly and decoding aloud.
Digraphs (double letter sounds)
Although there are no new sounds to be learned in year 2/phase 6, kids should be increasingly able to recognise diagraphs (two letters together) and read them automatically when sounding out words.
When reading 'plant', instead of saying each individual sound (P-L-A-N-T), kids might say PL-A-NT by pronouncing the adjacent consonants together. Of course, kids will be working towards this over the year and so it could be that they sound out each individual sound first and then again with diagraphs pronounced as one sound. Also, they may find some diagraphs easier than others to recognise automatically or start by being able to put together one pair of sounds first (and say PL-A-N-T or P-L-A-NT before then saying PL-A-NT).
Increasing the Pace of Reading
Kids will be steadily increasing their reading speed. They read faster by practising reading aloud as well as silently and by building up the number of words they can read automatically (without having to sound them out).
Reading Long Texts
By this stage, many kids will be able to read texts that are several hundred words long fairly fluently. If they are less confident with this then they may need to reread texts to improve fluency.
Comprehension Strategies in Year 2
Kids learn comprehension strategies which help them to make sure they understand what they read. They may consider:
literal and non-literal meanings
how they can use their prior knowledge
definitions of new vocabulary
what questions they could ask
Kids should read fiction as well as non-fiction. Non-fiction will require different comprehension strategies for understanding.
Spelling in Year 2
In Year 2 kids are encouraged to analyse words by counting the number of syllables, the number of phonemes and by thinking about why words are spelt a certain way and considering related words with similar patterns that they know as this helps them to remember irregular spellings better.
Kids learn about what tense is and how to add the suffix -ed for the past tense.
Suffixes and prefixes
In year 2 children are encouraged to think about how adding prefixes and suffixes change words.
High-Frequency & Tricky Words
Children are taught different ways of memorising spellings and practise using them to spell high-frequency and tricky words. Strategies include:
Children apply what they have learned in spelling through different types of writing activities. They use routines and strategies during writing to help them keep on improving their spelling. These include:
using dictionaries and spellcheckers
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