Since it was first published, Jolly Phonics has always focused on direct, explicit instruction of phonemic awareness and phonics for both reading (decoding) and writing (encoding). Phonemes – the smallest units of sound – are taught from the start, and the students practice blending and segmenting, as well as letter formation, to connect the phonemes to their corresponding graphemes (the letters that represent sounds). Students are taught to blend all through the word, with no guessing or memorizing of whole words. Each lesson begins with a story to strengthen phonemic awareness and encourage vocabulary development. As their letter-sound knowledge increases, the students are able to blend and segment more and more words automatically, as well as developing and extending their comprehension skills.