A message from Sara Wernham :
Phonics first made an impact on my life when I joined the reception class at Woods Loke Primary School in Suffolk, UK.I had no experience at all of how to teach reading, as this was not taught at my teacher training college.
Fortunately for me the school had already begun to develop a reading programme that later developed into The Phonics Handbook. I didn’t have much confidence at the start, as I had never come across such a method. When I was at school, I was taught the ‘Look and Say’ method of trying to memorise whole words. Consequently, I had a lot of difficulty with spelling when I was at school. As the term progressed, the reading and writing ability of the children I was teaching grew rapidly. I was amazed by how much could be achieved by teaching letter sounds that the children blended together to make words. It was a complete revelation to me. I felt like I was learning to read and write along with my first class.
Teaching in the reception (kindergarten) class meant I became involved with the Jolly Phonics programme. I trialled some of the materials, suggested things and watched the project develop. I was very enthusiastic, as not only could I see myself and my class learning, but I could appreciate the ease and fun involved in the process. If a complete novice like myself could use it and get results, it had to be good. As time went on I became more and more involved and I now I co-write much of the Jolly Phonics materials with Sue Lloyd. So in many ways, my involvement with Jolly Phonics has been a very personal one. All the more important for me now, as I have a son and a daughter of my own, is that I am able to help them in a way I would not have been able to before.