As your child starts school (or during preschool), you’ll hear phonics come up in relation to learning English, reading, writing, speaking and alphabet knowledge.
However, do you know what phonics are and their importance? Do you know how to help your child develop their awareness of phonics? Do you know how they fit into a learning sequence?
Phonics = the sounds made by individual letters or groups of letters. It is also learning how to merge individual sounds together to make a word.
Why is it important?
- It takes the alphabet and makes it meaningful and useful. Letter names don’t often correlate to how letters sound in words.
- It teaches children how to decode letters into the correct sounds
- Helps develop letter-sound knowledge which allows children to link written words with spoken words
- It helps you to quickly work out what a word says or what a word sounds like – allowing for fluency when reading
- Phonics lead to ‘sounding’ out words – a common activity in primary classrooms
How can you help your child learn about phonics?
- Don’t just refer to letters by their name or by singing the alphabet. Instead, start talking about letters by the sound they make.
- Work through the Jolly Phonics Program – this is a well-known program that has been used in schools around the world for many years (because it’s excellent). Start with learning the songs for each letter, as well as learning what the correct sound is for every letter, this can be easily done using the Book and CD. Then get into some hands on learning with the Finger Phonic books, these are structured to help work through the alphabet in a logical way. Put learning into practice with the workbooks, allowing you to see how your child is going and help them practice.
- Play with letters! Playing is our brains natural way to learn. Let your child play with these bean bags and practice identifying the sounds they hear when they say the name for each picture. Focus on the beginning sounds, middle sound and last sound in each word. You could also play with an Animal Phonic Bus (trust me, they won’t even know they are learning).
- Practice and make it a part of everyday. I recommend using some flash cards to fill in a gap of time, or as a quick before dinner activity. You could also sort letters out by the sound they make in words, repeating this activity will build confidence and can be done easily with Sort and Slide
- Reward and encourage your child. It can be hard to learn a new skill, remember that this is a new topic for children. Be kind, supportive and encouraging.
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