Well done! You have taught at home a full ten week course of Phase 3 phonics! This is a brilliant achievement and you should definitely take a moment to reflect on all of your learning at home. We hope that you have seen progress in your child's learning and enjoyed the process. Don't panic though if you don't feel much further forward than when you began...sometimes it is only when you take a step back and reflect on learning that you can see the progress made. Hopefully this week will help you establish what your child has learnt, identify any gaps in their learning, and determine if they are ready to move on to the next phase.
Today is about assessing where your child is with their learning. Are they secure with the sounds and skills taught in Phase 3 and are ready to progress to Phase 4, or do they need to recap on some particular sounds that they haven't yet embedded or develop their sentence writing skills.
If this is the first time your child has covered Phase 3 phonics it is highly probable that your child will need to go through Phase 3 again from the beginning as it is common practice that children need to repeat this phase twice before being ready to move on.
If this is the second time your child has covered Phase 3 phonics it is highly probable that they may have a few focus sounds or sentence writing skills that they need to refine, or they are ready to move to Phase 4.
Below you will find a range of tools to help you assess your child's current phonic knowledge and an explanation how to do this...
Things to know when assessing your child...
The most important thing that we must do during assessment as parents and teachers is to remain balanced and non-biased. Of course we want children to succeed and it is easy to be generous when you want them to progress but it is important to be and remain objective and honest. Don't worry if your child hasn't got a sound or word correct, or even if they have got a few wrong. Don't force it or hint for the right answer (which is a natural instinct to do). The best thing you can do is to move on, do not show your child that they haven't mastered it yet if it is incorrect, simply just praise for effort and remain positive! It is important to ensure children's self-esteem and confidence isn't knocked throughout this process. Even though they are only four and five years old they are very receptive, especially in these situations.
If it helps, break the assessment down into small chunks and complete over the week. Give your child the best chance by ideally completing it when they are more alert. We often find mornings are best for this in Reception before they begin to tire!
Most importantly - don't feel deflated if your child's assessment wasn't the result you were hoping for. Every child moves at different stages and by completing this assessment you will have found their strengths which they should be praised for, as well as their targets which identify what they need to work on. It isn't a race or a competition. It is simply about helping your child move forward and if they need to repeat a sound, or revise the high frequency words then that isn't a problem. The problems only begin if a child is moved on to the next phase before they are ready.
Part One - Letter Sound Knowledge
The easiest part of the assessment to do - as well as get wrong! Before completing this part of the assessment with your child we would ask you to revise how to pronounce these letter sounds as it is very easy for both children and adults to sound these out correctly. In order for children to be able to move on to the next phase they must pronounce these sounds with accuracy. Many children tend to add the -uh sound onto words which when they continue through phonics in other phases creates difficulties. By watching the clip on letter pronunciation below it will sharpen your ear to what your child is saying.
Use the phonic recording sheet and phoneme flashcards linked below to go through the phase three letter sounds. A tip for how to do this quickly and without alerting your child to if they got it wrong (usually done by putting a cross on the recording sheet) - use the flashcards and put any they didn't get right in a separate pile and then cross those ones off or highlight them after you have finished and your child isn't around, or write 'e' for error in the box as you go.
For this section we require children to know 22 or more sounds from Phase 3, Phase 2 sounds are excluded here. If there are any sounds that they do not yet know then these will become your phonics focus over the next few weeks and we would ask you to cover these daily to help embed them...it will really help for forthcoming phases.
Part Two - Blending and Segmenting Phase 3 words
Children are asked if they can blend and segment cvc, ccvc, and cvcc words. Blending is where they are able to say the sounds in the word and blend the sounds together to read the word independently. Segmenting is where they look at a word and can identify the sounds accurately within it. For example sock is s-o-ck, not s-o-c-k.
Use the flashcards above that accompany the assessment sheet. They have at the top of the word which set that they belong to (blending or segmenting). Go through each flashcard and use the same trick as with the sounds, put the ones they don't get right in a separate pile.
In order for your child to progress to phase 4 they would need to know at least 7 out of 10 in each section. This allows room for simple errors to be made, however any less than this and it shows that this skill is not yet embedded.
Part Three - Tricky Words
In phase 3 your child has learnt lots of high frequency words and these will be covered throughout the other phases, however the tricky words must be embedded to progress. There are 12 tricky words in Phase 3 (at the bottom left corner of the Phase 3 Assessment sheet). These are included in the flashcard set above.
In order for your child to progress they would need to know nine out of twelve tricky words. However we do suggest that if your child is not able to recognise all of these that you must focus on these before starting phase 4. As your child's class teacher we do also look at all of the high frequency words they have learnt to help us establish their knowledge and support them with their reading skills. You are welcome to do this also if you would like to. It will help you to see which words need more practise too.
All HFWs learnt in Phase 3 - off, can, had, back, we, me, be, she, he, put, see, was, will, with, my, for, too, you, this, that, they, then, them, her, now, all, look, are, down.
Part Four - Writing
Children in phase four are expected to be independent in recording sentences of no less than six words using the range of the phase 3 sounds accurately. For this part of the assessment ask your child to write the sentences below...
Can the feet of a champ go quick?
Is the rain off the back of the car?
Put the pair of high heels on now.
In order for your child to progress we wouldn't expect them to write the above sentence perfectly however the majority of the sentence needs to be...
- written clearly enough it can be read by others
- words are in the right order and not all jumbled
- most, if not all, words are recorded
- the words include the correct phase 3 sounds
And that's it! Phase 3 Assessment complete!
Now compile your findings. It is helpful to list any errors so you can identify what you need to work on even if they are to move on to phase four to help plug any gaps in their learning.
Result - They are ready to move on!
Great news! Next time you log on for your phonics learning on the Reception Home Learning web page look for 'New to Phase 4' for you to begin the next phase. If there are any small errors, sounds or high frequency words not yet ticked on your assessment sheet then please remember to spend a little extra time each week on these to ensure that they are secure.
Result - Help! I don't think my child is ready yet!
Don't worry or feel anxious or frustrated. It may not be what you had hoped for but it isn't bad news. It just means that the next step for your child is to focus on the areas that they made errors and practise more what they need to learn. As teachers we see children at a range of stages throughout the year. Don't feel disheartened or give up...just focus on your child's next steps and if possible spend slightly more time every school day doing phonics to help boost your child to gain a quicker effect. Next week simply return to the same tab 'Those already working within Phase 3' to help with next steps.
Well done on completing your phase 3 assessment. It is a big job and we have tried to simplify this as much as possible for you. We hope that it helps to give you a good understanding where your child is currently with their phonics. When school returns next year and we look closely at phonics, your child will be assessed in more depth and detail than you have been able to do at home. Your child may be placed on the same or different level than what you have assessed them at. Please do not worry about this - it will be in the best interests of your child as these assessments are very thorough and may highlight that they need to recap specific elements not detected on your home assessment, or that they have progressed further than you anticipated and need to go up a phase, or simply stay where they are. Either way - be proud of your child and yourself for all you have achieved to date.