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EYFS Helpful Information


How to help your child learn to read

If your child has recently started school, you might be wondering how you can help them lead to read at home, or perhaps you are interested in knowing a bit more about what they are learning in school.  Most parents of yound children were taught to read using a different strategy to the one used today, which is why it can be hard to know what to do for the best.  Hopefully some of the information here and links below can help you feel more informed about current reading strategy in schools


The way that children are taught to read these days is called phonics.  There are other useful words you might want to know like 'phoneme' (the sound of each letter) and grapheme (what each letter looks like).  Phonemes 9sounds) and graphemes (how it looks) are now taught in a spcial order, this is because educational specialists have worked out that this is the best way to help children learn to read.  The phoneme - graphemes are also split into groups called phases.  This is to help teachers assess where children are with their phonics.


What differs now from when most of us were children, is the very short sounds that letters make.  You may remember being taught 't' as a 'ter' sound, now it is a short and snappy 't' - if you whisper it it is easier to make the sound.  The two you may find particullay tricky to pronounce are l and n.  with the 'l' sound, pronounce as you would say at the end of 'hull', more of an ul sound.  With 'n' don't be tempted to say 'ner' as it's very much a 'n' on its own, like in 'Euan'.  Another tricky one is 'r', not 'rer' as you might think, but more of a growing 'rrr' sound.  When you say a letter think how it actually sounds in a word, for example 'f' might come our as 'fer' but in a word has a very short'f' sound, like in 'fluff'.  If you think that the 'f' is said 'fer' then this word would become 'ferluffer''!


For quite a lot of letters there is a temptation to put an 'er' on the end, 'h', 'j' and 't' being a few examples.  It's really important though that you keep the sounds really short, because if you think about it, when children are blending (which means putting the sounds together to make words), it wont work if all the letters end with an 'er' sound.  Think of 'cat', with the way we were taught as children it would sound 'cer-at-ter', where as short whispered sounds make it far easier to blend the letters.


The vowel sounds (a,e,i,o,u) can be taught as you would normally say them (a as in apple, e as in elephant, I as in igloo, u as in under, o as in orange), however there are some exceptions (E.G child) but these will be addressed in school later on.  There is also a list of tricky words that do not follow the normal pronunciation of other words.

Here is the order in which letters are taught, and the phases-

Phase 1

  1. Tuning into sounds
  2. Listening and remembering Sounds
  3. Talking about sounds (so basically being aware that words are made of graphemes and phonemes)
  4. Orally sounding out words to identify and spell them.
  5. Hearing words that start and end with the same sounds 

Phase 2

Learning which letter makes which sound

Set 1: s    a    t    p

Set 2: I    n    m    d

Set 3: g    o    c    k

Set 4: ck    e    u    r

Set 5: h    b    f    ff    l    ll    ss

Phase 3

Set 6: j    v    w    x

Set 7: y    z    zz    qu

ch    sh    th    ng    ai    ee    igh    oa    oo    ar    or    ur    ow    oi    ear    air    ure    er

Phase 4

No new graphemes

Practising all the graphemes and blending them together to make words.

This phase includes learning to read and spell longer words.

Phase 5

New graphemes ay (day)    ou (out)    ie (tie)    ea (east)    oy (boy)    ir (girl)    us (blue)    aw (saw)

wh (when)    ph (photo)    ew (new)    oe (toe)    au (Paul)

Split diagraphs (where the sound is split by another letter)

a-e (make)    e-e (these)    I-e (like)    o-e (home)    u-e (rule)

New pronunciations for known letters:

I (fin, find)    o (hot, cold)    c (cat, Cant)    g (got, giant)    ow (cow, blow)    ie (tie, field)    ea (eat, bread)

er (farmer, her)    a (hat, what)    y (yes, by, very)    ch (chin, school, chef)    ou (out, shoulder, could, you)

For further information, please click on the links below.

EYFS / KS1 Phonics Glossary

Help your child with reading

Reading with Understanding

Parent Reading prompts

Mr Thorne and Geraldine the Giraffe take you on a learning journey through the world of phonics


Phonicsplay - a site packed with interactive phonics games.

Owford Owl

Toilet Training

Toilet training is one of those child developmental stages parents can find frustrating and complex. Making the transition from nappy to toilet can certainly be a challenge, particularly if you feel pressurised to start the process before your child is ready.

By choosing the right time and approaching toilet training in a calm, patient manner, you can help your child get to grips with this new skill as quickly and smoothly as possible.

It is important to remember that every child is different so try not to compare your child to others. You may feel under pressure to ‘get toilet training out of the way’, perhaps because you have another baby on the way, or your child may be starting nursery soon.

But rushing toilet training is counter-productive and it’s worth bearing in mind that:

  • by the age of three, 9 out of 10 children are dry most days;
  • by the age of four most children are reliably dry.

So try not to worry or compete with others – wait to start toilet training at the right time for your child.

We’ve put together some tips and advice to help you overcome common toilet training troubles. They cover areas such as deciding whether your child is ready for toilet training and how to support your little one as they learn this important new skill.

Parent Tips

  • From about the age of 18 months your toddler will be aware that they have a wet or soiled nappy. They begin to recognise the sensation of passing urine and as they get a little older they may tell you that they need to do a ‘wee’. Many parents start to think about toilet training their child between 18 and 24 months but remember that all children are different and there is no ‘set’ time to start the process.
  • Look out for signs such as fidgeting, walking in a funny fashion or going somewhere quiet or hidden – these are all indications that your child is aware that they are about to go to the toilet, and are cues that your child might be ready to start toilet training.
  • When you are ready to start toilet training choose a time when you can be at home and things will be calm and relaxed. If you have a busy few weeks ahead of you, or other pressures to contend with, it might be worth waiting until you can give toilet training your full attention, rather than trying to ‘slot it in’ to a busy schedule.
  • Starting toilet training during the summer months can help to minimise stress and frustration for both you and your child. There are fewer clothes for your child to take off and it’s easier to dry clothes when your child has the inevitable accidents.
  • Talking about toilet training with your little one is a good way to provide reassurance as they embark on this new way of doing things. Visit your local library or ask your health visitor to recommend a picture book about toilet training that you can share with your child.
  • You might also like to swap nappies for trainer pants, which can easily be pulled up and down while you’re starting out on toilet training. Using ‘grown up’ training nappies can also be a good way of building confidence in your child if they’re a little reluctant to move on from the security of a nappy.
  • Introduce your child to a potty – explain what it’s for and encourage your child to play with the potty and try sitting on it so they can get used to this new object before you start training.
  • When you’re ready to get going, start the day off by encouraging your little one to sit on the potty before or after breakfast. You could put the potty in the bathroom and sit on the toilet yourself to show your child how it’s done.
  • Give your child lots of praise as you go through toilet training together. Your little one needs lots of gentle encouragement and praise, as well as regular reminders to use the potty throughout the day.
  • Consistency is vital so it’s a good idea to have a few quiet days at home in the early days of toilet training. If you do have to go out, take the potty with you as it’s important to keep the momentum going. Your child will become confused if you put them in a nappy for convenience, sending a mixed message that it’s okay to ‘wee’ or ‘poo’ in their nappy sometimes.
  • Encourage your child to sit on the potty after each meal. Even if they don’t do anything it’s a good way to encourage bowel movement as digestion is followed by a natural reflex to go to the toilet. Sitting quietly on the potty, perhaps with a book to look at, is a good way to get children used to going on the potty to do a poo.
  • It’s important to wait until your child is dry during the day before attempting night-time toilet training. Remember that night-time bladder control may take quite a bit longer to achieve, so be patient and wait until your child is truly ready for this next step (i.e. when your child is dry for several consecutive nights).
  • If toilet training isn’t going well and you and your child are getting frustrated, try not to worry. Leave it for another month and try again, taking it more slowly and perhaps use an incentive such as a reward chart. Your health visitor can help with common problems.

Additional Reading:

You can find lots of reliable advice on overcoming common potty training problems at:


NHS Choices


Speech & Language

For more information please have a look at the following factsheets: