Tricky Words

Tricky Words

To put it simply these are words that DO NOT sound out.

Want to know more?

 These badboys do not ‘sound out’ (yeh, so everything we’ve been previously telling you about systematically sounding out…it’s not necessarily true!) so you can’t rely on simple blending or segmenting to get these ones right.

How do our children get taught these? Well, they just have to learn them! Harsh, we know. Not only do they have to learn individual sounds and then recognise these sounds within a word and THEN blend them, they also need to spot and remember WHOLE words known as tricky words. Full on for any adult, let alone a 5 year old!

Oh and to throw another spanner in the works- your child may know these as ‘common exception words’ – it means the same thing just different terminology!

Your child should learn these words alongside their sounds during their phonics sessions. These will be taught from Reception and are split into different Phases and again increase in difficulty as your child progresses through school. It is useful to know these words when reading with your child so that you do not try to sound them out (as they don’t follow the rules). 

To help spot these tricky words, we have created a table (to the right) that contains most of the tricky words your child will be learning within Reception and Year 1 with the corresponding phase (don’t worry, we will talk more about phases soon). Look out for our Instagram stories this week with more of these words.

The more exposure your child has to these words, the better they will become at recognising them in a text or using them within their written work. As mentioned a million times before, reading is everywhere; on the back of your child’s favourite cereal, at the supermarket, at the park, road signs…everywhere! If you know what you are looking for you can easily spot these words and help your child recognise them.

All of our posts and stories this week will be based on tricky words and we aim to provide you with lots of interesting activities to help support your child at home. If you haven’t already, please give our Instagram page a follow. We REALLY appreciate your feedback- let us know if there is anything that you are stuck with.

Happy tricky words week!!


First 18 Tricky Words: free download

Click here to get an easy printable sheet with Tricky Words

Here’s a free download with the first 18 tricky words that your child will learn at school, aren’t we lovely!

Just click to download the PDF document. Print out and then cut up the words to use with all of the great game and practise ideas. Ideas on Highlights on instagram and facebook! Yay, happy practising.

Let us know if downloads like this are useful, we can offer more!



                  Digraphs are two letters that make one sound

Want to find out more?

Digraph is yet another new term that I doubt any of us have ever heard of! I certainly hadn’t come across it before phonics lessons. To put it simply, it’s just two letters that together make one sound. These are harder for children to spot whilst reading and your child will only be taught these after they have learnt Phase 2. This typically happens during your child’s reception year at school and could be recapped during year 1.

Rain is a fine example of a word that contains both digraphs and single sounds. Reading the word out loud you can (maybe you can, or maybe you can’t but hopefully after reading this it will be a can) hear 3 sounds: R , ai  and n. So the r and n are the single sounds, the ai is a digraph; it’s two letters that are making that ai sound. So your child needs to spot that those two letters that are sitting side by side are making that sound rather than the single sounds that a and i make. You may notice the dots and line underneath the word; the dot represents a single sound and the line represents a digraph. We use these ‘sound buttons’ a lot at school to help children distinguish between single sounds and digraphs.

Here is a list of all the digraphs that you child will be taught during their first few years at school.
Still confused?

Phonics is particularly hard to get our heads round! We recommend that you listen to a few Youtube videos that identify each digraph and familiarise yourself with these. These are a few of our favourites:

As ever, we will be posting stories on our Instagram page that will provide you with some activities for you to try out at home. If you have any questions, queries or concerns please contact us on our page or in the comment section below. 




We’ve all heard of it…but does anyone actually know what it is? Ever wondered what the heck teachers are talking about in your child’s report or during parent’s evening when they mention phonics? Well, quite simply, phonics is HOW children are taught to read and write. It’s basically words broken into sounds (a bit like syllables). The children then use this information to read words and spell words. Simple, hey?….Well, in principle it is! But I was never taught like that I hear you cry!! No, but learning sounds help children spell and read by breaking down each word rather than just learning rules.

During the course of the first few years of school, your child will learn all of the sounds that are needed to help them spell and read words. Phonics is grouped into levels of difficulty and these groups are called Phases (we will be covering this in a separate post that’s coming soon). Your child will be taught the sounds in each Phase and taught rules that apply to these sounds. There are, of course, a few words that we cannot apply these rules to and these are called Tricky words or Common Exception Words (we will also go into this in more detail). What is helpful is that for most schools the book(s) that your child brings home from school should only feature words that they have been taught during their phonics and literacy sessions. Lots of schools use coloured book bands which show different levels of sounds that have been taught and they get harder as they move through the bands.

There is a wealth of resources to help support your child’s learning of these sounds on the internet. If you pop into google ‘Phase 2 (where’s Phase 1, don’t you worry, we’ll come back to that) phonics’ it will provide you with enough material to keep you going for weeks!! Just have a listen to some of the sounds and this should help you understand what this process is all about.

Here’s a short video about some of the sounds that your children will learn during phonics:

Tactile letters

These little letters just shout out to be played with. The rough texture helps with tracing and practicing letter formation. There are even little dots to show you where to start the letter!

More posts will be coming soon with information about the phonics jargon. Each post will give you a simple explanation of each term and signpost ways to support your child at home through fun activities or online resources.

Any questions just comment below or contact us via Instagram.




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