Phonics Phase 6: Achieving Fluency
Phase Six is the stage at which children start to become good readers and competent spellers. They will be familiar with most of the graphemes they need for reading and spelling and should be able to read silently and automatically without having to sound words out aloud. They will, of course, come across unfamiliar words but should be able to work most of these out silently.
Improving reading fluency is the main goal of this phase. Parents and teachers should therefore continue to encourage children to read as wide a variety of reading matter as possible.
As they continue reading practice, pupils continue to learn more homophones and exception words. They should be able to easily read the exception words and longer words that they already know although they may still need to sound out some complex new words.
Spelling rules and patterns children learn in this phase focus on adding endings to words. These include:
- When to add s to plurals and when to add es (examples: the plural of hat is hats but the plural of box is boxes)
- How to add the ed and ing endings to verbs (examples: look, looked and looking; skip, skipped, and skipping)
- Rules for adding the endings er and est (examples: hot, hotter, hottest, nice, nicer, nicest)
- Adding en in words like widen
- Adding ful as in joyful
- Whether or not to change y to an i when adding ment (enjoyment for example) and ness (happiness).
You will notice that as children become familiar with the rules for adding endings to words, the words they are able to read and write are becoming longer. To help them read these longer words, they learn a technique which builds on the sounding out and blending skills they practiced earlier in the programme. They now learn to break words into syllables and to read each syllable separately before combining them together.
Most children should be able to complete Phase Six by the end of Year Two although some might need extra help if they are having difficulties.
Children who successfully complete Phase Six should be able to read books suitable for their age and interests. Rather than focussing on sounding out individual words, they should be applying their phonics skills automatically, leaving their attention free to focus on the meaning of what they read. Once they are able to do this, they will be well prepared for the reading requirements of Year Three.
Continue reading: Phonics in the English National Curriculum