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The Best Phonics  Tutor Blog

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Expert tutor blog with hot tips for supporting your KS1 child-phonics, reading, writing and tutoring.

Kara Cook-Primary Tutor & Phonics Expert
Kara-Primary Tutor

Hi! I'm Kara. I am an expert phonics tutor, reading specialist and

an experienced primary teacher. I love helping children learn to read and write!

Stay tuned for more blogs about phonics, reading and early literacy here!

Subscribe to my list for helpful tips and tricks for helping you support your early reader!


Prepare your child for the 2024 Year 1 Phonics Screening Check with expert tips and practical activities. 🧩Join the Phonics Pals program for tailored support!

5 Phonics Expert Tips and Support For Getting Your Year 1 Child Ready for the Phonics Screening Check

5 Phonics Expert Tips for Passing the Year 1 Phonics Screening
Expert Tips for Year 1 Phonics Success

The Year 1 Phonics Screening Check, serves as a valuable benchmark that assesses how well your child utilises their phonics knowledge in blending and decoding words, laying the foundation for early reading and fluency.

If you have a struggling reader, it is vital to support their reading development with lots of practical phonics practice to get them ready.

While the thought of this phonics assessment might seem overwhelming at first, it's an excellent opportunity for children to showcase their phonics knowledge and for parents to witness their child's reading progression.

By approaching the preparation with the right mindset and the best phonics resources, mums like you can transform this experience into a confidence-boosting milestone for your Year 1 child.

 Here are five easy, yet effective ways to prepare your child for their phonics screening check, ensuring they approach it with confidence and the skills they need to succeed. As a phonics expert, I recommend using fun and practical techniques and phonics games. Focus on practising trickier phonics sounds, blending and decoding to foster your little one's reading confidence.

Here are the top five practical phonics activities and tips to get you started:

TIp #1 Use Phonics Check Flashcards to Prepare Your Child
Get Your Child Prepared for the Phonics Screening!

Tip 1: Make Learning Fun with Customised Phonics Check Flashcards

Phonics check flashcards are an engaging and versatile tool that makes learning fun and helps maintain your child's focus. Incorporating phonics games, practical phonics activities and storytelling with these cards can significantly enhance your child's phonics skills while keeping them actively engaged in learning.

Check out my phonics check flashcard collection, which is expertly designed for preparation for the phonics screening check. These colourful phonics resources combine phonics practice and enjoyment, with vibrant images of aliens that kids will love!

Get your Phonics Check Flashcards Here! ⤵️

Phonics Epert Tip #2 Read Daily with your Year 1 Child
Daily Reading Leads to Success

Tip 2: Read together Daily with your Year 1 Learner

Reading with your child daily is not only a wonderful bonding activity but also significantly boosts your child's reading ability. Choose phonics books that are appropriate for their reading level, gradually introducing more challenging words as they progress.

Encourage your little one to sound out words using their phonics knowledge and praise their efforts, keeping the experience positive and fun!

As a busy mum, you can creatively do this, have your child read at the kitchen table while you are making breakfast or dinner. The whole point is that you are giving your child every chance to succeed!

Phonics Epert Tip #3 Writing with your Year 1 Child
Writing promotes Good Phonological Awareness

Tip 3: Encourage your Year 1 child to Write

Writing is a powerful tool for encouraging and reinforcing phonics skills. Encourage your child to write simple and more complex words using their phonics sounds.

Make it fun by writing silly sentences, animal diaries, letters to family members or stories. Through writing, your child will be applying their phonics knowledge creatively and practically, which can greatly aid their understanding and retention. A win, win!

Phonics Expert Tips #4 Practice Past Phonics Papers
Year 1 Phonics Practice Material

Tip 4: Practice with Past Year 1 Phonics Screening Checks

A good tactic is to familiarise your child with the format of the phonics test and the types of words they might encounter can demystify the screening check and ease anxiety.

Practice with past papers or similar exercises like using the phonics check flashcards. Remember to keep the tone light and encouraging. The goal is to build your child's confidence, not pressure them.

You can get free past phonics screening check materials here to practice⤵️

Phonics Practice

Tip 5: Seek Support from a Phonics Expert with Year 1 Phonics Pals

Sometimes, a little expert guidance can make a huge difference. As a phonics expert myself, I can provide tailored reading support and phonics strategies to help your child excel.

As a former Year 1 teacher, I recommend my Year 1 Phonics Pals class. The Phonics Pals Program features fun phonics intervention booster sessions designed to help Year 1 and 2 children get them prepared for the Phonics Screening, equipping them with confidence and proficiency.

Preparing for the phonics screening check can be a stress-free and rewarding journey.

By integrating these top strategies into your daily routines, you can create a supportive and enjoyable learning environment for your child. Remember, every child's learning pace is unique- be patient.

Have fun celebrating their achievements, no matter the size, and keep the process fun and engaging.

Phonics Pals Booster for Year 1 Children
Join Phonics Pals Today!

Phonics Pals: Jumpstart your Child's Phonics Adventure

with Phonics Expert Support!

Sign up for the Phonics Pals Waiting List Today! Are you eager to pave the way for your child's success in reading? Hi! I'm Kara, a Jigsaw Phonics tutor and reading expert with extensive knowledge and experience working with children just like yours!

This is your golden opportunity to secure your child's place in Phonics Pals, our effective phonics-based reading program where your child will have personalised access to dynamic phonics lessons tailored to boost their phonics knowledge and confidence.

By joining our Phonics Pals waiting list, you'll be the first to know when enrolment opens, plus you'll receive invaluable tips and resources to support your child's reading journey. We offer the best Year 1 phonics support to prepare your child for the Phonics Screening Check with Kara, a phonics expert and reading tutor.

Places are limited so join today!

Click the big pink button to secure your child's slot today!

Dyslexia & Other Literacy Challenges:

Recognising and Helping Early Readers

at home & school

Welcome back to my 3-part series: Dyslexia & Other Literacy Challenges. In Part 1, we explored the early signs of literacy challenges in our budding young readers.

In Part 2 "Empowering Early Readers: Navigating Literacy Challenges and Dyslexia" we'll be diving deeper to explore the six vital signs, with a special focus on dyslexia. Join me as we uncover the secrets to empowering these young literary explorers!

A Guide for Parents: 6 Ways to Spot Dyslexia & Other Literacy Challenges in Your Early Reader (part 2)

Let's continue our journey by understanding these signs and discovering ways to support our budding readers both at home and school. Here are 6 essential tips to understand the early warning signs of struggling readers.

1. Reading Isn't Always Smooth

As young readers advance to short phrases or sentences, the ones on the dyslexia spectrum will be unlikely to read them fluently. That's because all their mental energy goes into sounding out words, preventing them from reading automatically, and therefore easily, like skilled readers.

When this happens, fluent reading is too hard or it isn't happening. This is often noted in the first term of Reception when reading instruction becomes more formal.

2. Mistaking Similar-Looking Words

Dyslexic readers often confuse similar-looking words by reading one word as another. Frequent occurrences could hint at dyslexia. One of the reasons for this is just the effort of reading words, and effortful processes are prone to mistakes. Another reason is that dyslexic learners often do not comprehend what they read and so similar-looking words become interchangeable because that process of "hold on, this doesn't make sense, let me read that again" doesn't kick in for dyslexic learners.

3. Trouble with Irregular Words

Early readers learn to sound out words, like c-a-t/cat, as the first strategy they are taught. But with so many irregular words in the English language, children find this strategy is not always helpful as it doesn't always work. There are those "sight words" or "tricky words" like here and some and once that are impossible to sound out-they need to be read in one go, automatically.

Children who persistently try to sound out these words are relying on the only strategy they know, and this can be an indication of dyslexia.

4. Putting in Extra Effort

Some children put in extra effort and work so much harder than everyone else to compensate for their difficulties, but only get poor to average results. This can be where dyslexia can affect their mental health and self-esteem.

If this describes your child, it is essential to provide support.

Also, be alert to when your child puts in incredible levels of hard work but gets about the same results as the children who are not on the dyslexia spectrum.

That level of effort is exhausting and is hard to maintain, especially as work gets harder. In this case, if your child is assessed, the results are often at the lower end of the spectrum but not low enough for a "diagnosis" of dyslexia.

5. Reading Without Full Comprehension

"Fluent" reading doesn't always mean full comprehension. Some young readers decode words efficiently but struggle to grasp the content. It's crucial to differentiate between reading and understanding.

These children fall into the group on the dyslexia spectrum who are called "poor comprehenders" and while this tends to show up a bit later in the journey of learning to read, it's one to watch out for. It's those learners who read fluently but fail to comprehend what they have read. This is because all of their effort is used for reading words so there is no capacity left over to understand what they have read. It's easy to mistake fluent reading for reading with understanding, but they are often very different things.

6. Family History Matters

Dyslexia is genetic and often runs in families. According to about 40 percent of siblings of kids with dyslexia also have reading challenges. Additionally, as many as 49 percent of their parents do, too.

Exactly how genetics leads to dyslexia is complex and not fully understood yet. As a result, it may skip a generation, or it may only show up in one child and not their siblings.

Because it was not fully recognised until fairly recently, clues are that older relatives might share negative stories of their school struggles due to unrecognised difficulties. The chances are that they did not go into jobs that require lots of reading and writing. Recognising these patterns in family history can be a vital clue for identifying dyslexia in younger children. Once you know what you are looking for, it all falls into place pretty easily.

Understanding the early indicators of struggling readers is like discovering hidden treasures in the realm of literacy. That is why taking proactive steps can significantly impact a child's literacy development. In our final blog part, I’ll reveal practical strategies and valuable resources to champion children with literacy differences, ensuring their success in reading and writing. Stay tuned for more!

Are you concerned about your child's literacy development or suspect they may have dyslexia?

Does your child come home from school tearful because their peers are so much better at reading?

This kind of anxiety and pressure will turn them away from reading for good if you don't take action to support them.

Good news, I can help! As an experienced online reading tutor, I am trained to identify the signs of dyslexia and other literacy challenges and provide tailored support.

Let's work together to empower your young reader. Reach out to me for guidance and support on your journey.

Email me at or book a call to get started.

Your child's literacy success is just a click away!

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