Starting school often generates feelings of excitement mixed with apprehension, for children and parents alike, as they embark on a journey likely to last eleven years or more. Children will learn new subjects and new skills, but none are more important than reading and writing, which will be needed to support most topics and endeavours during education and throughout life.
Parents may be aware that nowadays, reading is taught using Synthetic Phonics, but not feel confident they know what this is, or what it entails. Probably no publication gives a clearer insight to this topic than does the Oxford Phonics Spelling Dictionary. Unlike a ‘normal’ dictionary it does not give the meanings of words, nor is it in ‘alphabetical order’.
Instead, words are ordered by their initial SOUND, (not necessarily letter), and are presented in the same sequence as taught in a majority of UK schools. Other additional features make the book a valuable teaching and learning resource: the plurals of Nouns are shown, as are the various tenses of Verbs; Adjectives have their degree indicated.
Some examples from the /s/ pages (normally the first sound taught) will show how this is achieved:
sad sadder, saddest
safe safer, safest
sail sails, sailing, sailed
celebrate celebrates, celebrating
The book has clear introductory instructions, uses helpful colour coding, and has liberal use of amusing little illustrations, making it easy and enjoyable to use.
Separate panels show hints and tips about spelling, and there is a whole section on the various spellings of long vowel sounds. The book ends with two pages of common and tricky words.
Adults may share the Dictionary with younger children, while older pupils will use it on their own, to support and reinforce sounds and words they are learning at school. Even teenagers or adults may find it useful, to clarify doubts they have about certain aspects of spelling.