Phonics comes with its very own jargon which can be confusing. On this page I'll be helping you understand different phonics terminology.
Phoneme / Sound
A sound or phoneme (technical term) is the smallest unit of sound you can hear in a word. For example:
cat = c-a-t
car = c-ar
chimpanzee = ch-i-m-p-a-n-z-ee
Some schools call them sounds while others introduce the children to the technical term phoneme.
So in short a phoneme/sound is what you can hear.
A grapheme is the written representation of the sound/phoneme you hear. For example the phoneme 'igh' (vowel sound i) is always pronounced the same but can be written igh, i_e, i, y, ie.
A grapheme is what you can see written down.
A digraph is where two letters make one sound e.g. ch, sh, ng, th, oo, ar etc. They are normally taught after most of the single letter sounds and some are introduced in reception.
Some schools call them special friends rather than the official terminology.
Children are asked to identify them before they try to sound out and read the word as this makes blending the sounds easier.