How to Prepare for the Phonics Screening Check

This June, all children in Year 1 will be taking the Phonics Screening Check, a 40-word check of a child’s phonic skills and knowledge. In this blog post, we demystify what the Phonics Screening Check is and offer some tips for how you can help support your child so they feel confident and prepared.

What you need to know

What is it?

A 40-word check of a child’s phonic skills and knowledge. It lasts around 5-10 minutes.

Which year group?

Year 1 (ages 5-6)

When is it?


What does it assess?

  • Sounding out and blending letters and sounds to read simple words.
  • Reading decodable one-syllable and two-syllable words
  • Reading non-regular or “alien” words

What is ‘phonics’? What is the check?

  • Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write.
  • It focuses on the different sounds in words, rather than needing to recognise whole words.
  • In England, we use Systematic Synthetic Phonics. This means children learn sounds in a particular order.
  • Children start by breaking down words into their sounds (for example, ‘c-a-t’ or ’s-t-r-ee-t’) and then blend the sounds back together again.
  • The Phonics Screening Check contains 40 words, which children will sound out. The check contain a mixture of real words and pseudo-words (made-up words).
  • All the pseudo-words are accompanied by a picture of an imaginary creature. This provides a context for the child (naming the type of imaginary creature) to ensure that they are not trying to match the pseudo-word to a real word that they already know.

How to Prepare for the Phonics Screening Check

Read Books Regularly

It is important that your child is exposed to new words regularly through fun and engaging stories. Our Phonics Book Bag Readers series contains over 100 fiction and non-fiction phonically decodable reading books that are perfect for very early readers. The series is 100% aligned to Little Wandle Letters & Sounds Revised SSP with each book carefully crafted to help children build on their secure phonic knowledge, moving confidently from decoding words to reading fluently and for pleasure.

Make Phonics Practice Fun!

Eliminate any stresses or worries your child has in the lead up to the test by making phonics practice fun! Our Phonics Workbooks provide a range of games and activities to help practice and consolidate core phonics skills like letter recognition, blending, reading one-syllable words and more.

Use Practice Papers

Instill confidence in your child by using practice papers and quick tests so they know what to expect on the day. 100% aligned to the Phonics Screening Check, our National Test Papers for ages 5-6 contain three complete screening checks, with additional phonic activities and clear guidance on what is expected. If you’re short on time, then our Phonics 10-Minute Tests are a great alternative for practicing with your child. Packed with bite-sized tests, games, activities and a skills check chart, this will help build confidence, track progress and identify gaps in your child’s learning.

Similar Posts

All categories

Blog home