If you're a teacher you'll know this, but many parents aren't so sure. So Mums and Dads, this is for you.

Phonics describes the relationship between sounds and the letters that represent them. Each distinct sound in English is called a phoneme, and there are 44 of them in our language, which is why there are a number of "44 sounds" resources on the market. We sell some of them here. A letter or combination of letters that represent one sound is called a grapheme, and we call the relationship between sounds and the symbols (graphemes) that represent them "grapheme phoneme correspondence", or gpc for short. This is sometimes referred to as the phonic code: as children progress in their grasp of phonics they learn new gpc's and increase their skill and confidence in blending them together, or "synthesizing" them, to decode unfamiliar words. Using synthetic phonics, "cat" is decoded in three stages: c - a - t, and the three sounds are synthesized to make the word.

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