It's really important that children learn to try to sound out as many words as they can. The exceptions are Tricky Words and Common Exception Words (more on this below).
To do this, we teach children to "pinch the sounds".
Children should listen to and/or say the word (ideally a couple of times) and then pinch the sounds off on their fingers. It's important to remember that the fingers represent the number of sounds, not letters. Digraphs and trigraphs can be two or three letters representing one sound!
At these relatively early stages, we know children will not always be secure in knowing which version of a sound to choose. For example, they may write:
The boi ait a reelee big caik.
This is perfectly acceptable to begin with!! All the sounds are there!
As your child develops confidence, encourage them to use sound mats like the ones above to think about spelling rules. Typically, by Year 2, children are getting much better at self selecting the correct spelling pattern based on rules they have learned.
E.g. "At the end of a word, how do we usually write the /ee/ sound?.... Yes, we use the letter 'y'." Or "Well done, I can see you have chose an /oi/ sound for the word "boy" - do you know any other ways to write that sound?"
It is important that whilst children sound out using phonics, they can also name the letters of the alphabet, too. This will help them when they want to talk about different spellings (graphemes). "Ok, we are going to write the /oi/ sound spelled with an 'o' and a 'y'."
If you would like to practise some extra spellings, the phonics quizzes on Purple Mash Year 1 level provide a good variety of sounds which we need to work on representing accurately.
Tricky Words and Common Exception Words
Tricky Words and Common Exception Words (CEWs) have a lot in common - in fact, you'll find some words on both lists! They are words which either cannot be sounded out using normal phonic rules, or which at the very least cannot be sounded out during the early stages of learning the phonics rules.
For example, "he" and "she" are Phase 3 Tricky Words because children won't learn that the grapheme "e" can also make a long sound (/ee/) until Phase 5. At this point, they only know it can make a short sound like in the word "egg".
Tricky Words and Common Exception Words need to simply be learned and repeatedly practised, both for spelling and for reading.
Children are expected to use a cursive style of writing.
At first, this begins with letters which have a lead out / flick but do not yet join to one another.
Children MUST have accurate letter formation in isolation before attempting to join!
You will notice, there are no lead-ins to the letter, and no loops on f g, j or y.
When encouraging your child to write, use this checklist to refer back to.
These - along with the sentence making sense - are the bare minimum expectations for a sentence in Year 2.
You can download a simple sentence writing template from the PDF below.
(Click image to visit site)
Pobble365 is a great site for finding some unusual and inspiring pictures to write about, in order for children to practise simple, single sentence writing tasks.
From 13th December 2021 it will require a subscription, but it possible to use the free version of the subscription and still access the pictures.
Alternatively, you can simple use books from home, family photos and cuttings from magazines / newspapers to inspire children to write sentences about.
(Click image to visit site)
Some children in Y2 still struggle with the idea that a sentence must be a complete idea, which makes sense.
You can try "The Scramblinator" to type in simple sentences which the machine will scramble for you.
Of course, this can easily be done by hand and also works well on cut up bits of paper for physically unscrambling.
Whichever way you do it, aim to write a sentence which matches your child's reading ability so that reading the words is not a barrier to understanding and unscrambling the sentence. For example, you could copy out and jumble up a sentence from your child's reading book for them to work on.
SPAG (Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar)
SPAG can seem daunting at first, even to adults. Most grown ups don't remember being explicitly taught many of our English language rules.
However, it's essential part of the curriculum in both KS1 and KS2.
There are some games you can access any time in your Purple Mash account.
At the moment, children should confidently be able to play games from the "Hatching Out" level, and we'll work on skills from "Chicklets" as the year progresses. Please note, we may also set these for homework from time to time.
BBC Bitesize also has some really hand guides: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/topics/zkxxsbk
Plus, their game - Small Town Superheroes - is excellent for practising! Click the image to visit.