If you are a parent chances are you have heard the word ‘phonics’ a lot.
Put very simply, phonics is the relationship between written letters and their corresponding sounds.
It is a tool or strategy that we use to decode print- to work out words that we have never seen before.
Ultimately the goal of reading is for comprehension, to understand what we read.
This depends on quick decoding of new words so we don’t lose the meaning, and phonics is a tool for this.
For example if beginning readers know that d makes a 'd sound like in dad', o makes ''o for orange' and g 'g for goat' they can quickly decode this word until a store of sight vocabulary is built up.
Research shows that a systematic phonics programme is a very effective way for children to learn to read.
We only need to look at the steadily increasing reading outcomes of English children since phonics teaching was introduced into schools in 2006 to know it is successful. Recommendations from Otago University research is that New Zealand children are screened on school entry for letter/sound knowledge and instruction is explicitly given to children needing this prior to introduction of the Ready To Read book series at school.
We use a phonics programme at SomersetSmyth as part of our literacy programme simply because it works. We have seen the effectiveness of this as our children go off to school with awesome phonetical knowledge and skill, kick starting their reading.
NZ reading rates, school entry oral language tests and reading readiness have declined steadily since the turn of the century when compared to other English speaking countries – and not just for poor, under privileged kids. Reading rates for white, middle class pakeha kids have plummeted the most.
Preschool is one most important times for learning. Young children are like sponges, soaking up ideas and information– so it’s a great time to start them on their reading journey.
2. Sing the alphabet song over and over – point to each letter as you sing to develop a relationship between the names and how each letter looks in print.
3. If your child's kindergarten uses a phonics programme as we do here, ask what letters the children are currently learning and follow this at home
4. If not, start with introducing sounds of familiar letters– the initial letter of their name, m for Mum and d for Dad
5. Play eye spy– look for other things starting with that sound.
6. Point out known letters in text, on street signs, car number plates, in store windows.. and say this word starts with an m sound.
8. Read, read, read – as you read point out words that start with the m sound – "I wonder what this word might be, it starts with the m sound just like Mum."
9. Revisit loved books over and over, giving your child opportunities to see the same letter, hear the same sounds and have success in predicting words.
If you would like to know more about phonics, ideas to help at home, or about our preschool please call or message us.
We also recommend that you check out our glossary, look out for our up coming posts about reading with your child, and simple activities to support alphabet and phonic knowledge.