Parents hear so much of this word being used that some might even try to sign up the child for phonics without even knowing what is it. Phonics is a system of decoding alphabets, converting a group of letters into single or a group of blended sounds. How how does it help?
Phonics – What is it?
Individually, the letters are just sounds and are meaningless in the English language. The letters are strung together to form individual words, and each word contains a meaning. However, it is easier to remember the words as a single or a combination of blended sounds. Hence learning phonics will allow quick conversion of the word into sounds, allowing for easier attachment of the meaning. The words are decoded using phonics, combining letters together to produce either one or a combination of blended sounds.
So you can see phonics as a decoder from words to sounds where meaning can then be attached more easily. Without this decoding, it will be difficult for meanings to be attached to the individual words.
How to teach phonics?
However, how can we teach young children effectively such that the phonetic sounds remain permanently in children? The answer is structured self-testing. Here at Mrs Sam’s, we have a unique patented system to achieve this. We have structured the different sounds, combined with a set of proprietary rules to ensure that your child can comprehensively master the complete foundation requirements of independent reading. Click here for course information!
When to teach phonics?
The main purpose of reading is to understand the passage read, instead of just able to ‘sound out’ the words without understanding the meaning of the text as a whole. This means the mental capacity of the child should be channeled towards understanding the text before they start blending the words. Hence, this is the first criteria that the child should fulfill before learning phonics.
Another criteria is that Sight Words has to be taught before phonics. Some of these high frequency English words are often unable to be sounded using phonics, without rules for exception. A good example is the word “like”. Using fully understanding phonics and the rules, it would be pronounced as “li-ke”, a 2 syllabus word, instead of its 1 syllabus pronunciation, with the silent “e”. Hence, at an early age, sight words should be introduced first to speed up the learning process.
By the time the child is done learning a majority of the sight words, he/she will have matured enough to fully understand the complexities of phonics to ensure that the blending process is correct. Also, by this time they would have learnt the importance of understanding what they read, allowing children to check their understanding themselves.
This combination of Sight Words and Phonics, when used in conjunction appropriately, will equip the child with essential reading skills for them to start their individual learning journey. However, having the skills alone is not enough for every child to develop a liking for reading; they must have a strong desire to read too. Fortunately, this can be cultivated as well, and parents need to put in time and effort to show the child that reading is important and can be done for leisure as well! There are many activities to cultivate this habit, and topping this list of activities is “Reading aloud to/with your kids every night”. A quick online search will reveal countless benefits of this activity!