Anyone who has been to school has learned phonics. Phonics is the basic reading instruction that teaches children the relationships between letters and sounds. Phonics teaches children to use these relationships to speak and write words. According to a study by the Partnership for Reading, the objective of phonics instruction is to help children learn and use the “alphabetic principle”-the systematic and predictable relationships between written letters and spoken sounds. Knowing these relationships through phonics helps young readers to recognize familiar words accurately and easily “decode” new words.
Phonics is a branch of linguistics where the sounds and physical properties of human speech sounds are studied. Phonics reading is highly essential in every child education. It is not uncommon to find parents who question the importance of phonics reading in the education of their children. Such parents believe that children will naturally master the different sounds of human speech since the ability to use language is innate in every human being. Their view may look plausible but they are not actually correct.
Indeed, phonics reading is very important in the education of children. The report of National Reading Panel indicates that teaching children phonics will help them in many ways in life. In the first instance, phonics reading is very important in helping children to learn how to spell words. It will be impossible for a person to spell any word correctly if the person is not able to recognize the sounds of the letters used in forming the words. When a child is taught phonics, the child will be able to recognize sounds in words and will be able to spell them correctly.
Children have problem in reading because they are not able to recognize the sounds of the letters of the alphabet in the words they read. Phonics reading will help children to recognize and associate sounds of the letters of the alphabet in the word they read. This will help them to improve in their reading skills and efficiency. In other words, it will be difficult for a child to improve in his reading skills if the teaching of phonics is removed from their curriculum.
Phonics reading helps also to increase a child’s fluency in reading. Fluency in this context is not limited to reading fast. It also means reading text accurately. When a child is taught phonics properly, the child will find reading easy. The child will not only read accurately but also quickly. Reading quick and correctly is another benefits of phonics reading.
Phonics reading is also necessary for the improvement of a child’s reading comprehension. It is impossible for somebody to understand a word that is not properly pronounced. When a child learns how to pronounce a word very well, the child will be able to comprehend what he or she reads. Reading comprehension is another benefit that can be derived from phonics reading. Phonics reading will also help a child in acquiring more vocabulary on daily basis. When a child is able to pronounce a word correctly, the child will be able to understand the word. Children normally use in their words that they understand in their daily speech.
Children have to develop more confidence in themselves before they begin to vocalize more. This begins the moment they realize that they can pronounce words correctly like older people. It is only through phonics reading that children will develop the ability to pronounce words very well. So, if you want your child to develop confidence and become more vocal in the future, you need to teach him or her phonics.
The Progressing Stages of Phonics
- Realize that sentences are made up of words.
- Realize that words can rhyme. Make your own rhymes.
- Realize that words can be broken down into syllables. Start breaking down words into syllables.
- Realize that words can begin with the same sound. Practice these first sounds.
- Realize that words can end with the same sound. Practice these ending sounds.
- Realize that words can have the same medial sounds. Practice these medial sounds.
- Realize that words can be broken down into individual sounds. Practice these sounds.
- Realize that sounds can be deleted from words to make new words. Practice these.
- Start blending sounds to make words.
- Start segmenting words into component sounds.
The Public Broadcasting Company has produced informative literature on learning phonics. They state, “As children are exposed to written language, they discover that marks on a page stand for letters and words. You may have heard children singing the alphabet song like this: ellamenopee. With increased and consistent interaction with print, language, and books, children eventually realize that the string of letters is really l, m, n, o, p and sing the alphabet song with greater confidence and ease. To read well, children need to understand that written English consists of letters and groups of letters that stand for a series of sounds.”
The PBS article continues, by saying, “Phonics helps children understand the relationships between letters and individual sounds. Children need to understand that the letter m stands for the /m/ sound, for example. Knowing these relationships helps children more accurately read familiar words, analyze new words, and write words. When children understand that bake is spelled with an “e” rather than bak, they are better able to read, spell, and write words like cake, lake, make, take, wake, and snake.”
List the following behaviors that indicate children’s growing mastery of phonics.
- Know consonant sounds
- Know that a, e, i, o, and u are vowels.
- Know sounds of digraphs. Example: /sh/ in shell.
- Know sounds of consonant blends. Example: /bl/ in block and /str/ in string.
- Know short vowel word families. Example: at, an, op, on, it, in.
- Break words into syllables.
- Find familiar words within unknown words. Example: mat in matter.
- Substitute or add letters to make new words. Example: When asked to take away the letter t in the word tan, can the child say the word is an? Can the child put the letter t on an to make the word ant?
How You Can Help Your Child Learn Phonics
The PBS article suggests a few activities to help your child develop phonics skills. They preface theses activities with this statement: “Children implicitly as they hear good books being read and write stories using invented spellings. They also learn through clear and explicit modeling. A balanced approach allows for both types of learning.”
Learn Phonics with-Letter-Sound Cards
- Make personal letter cards with each child. Write the upper- and lowercase form of a letter on one side of an index card. On the other side, help children draw, paste pictures, or write words that begin with the sound. For example, on one side write Bb. On the other side children can write, draw, or paste a bat, bee, or boat.
I Spy-A Fun Phonics Game
- Invite children to play a guessing game. Without revealing it to the child, select an object in the room and provide phonics clues to help the child guess what it is. For example, “I spy something that begins with the sound /t/.” Keep offering clues until the child guesses that the object is a table.
Learn About Phonics by “Sorting”
- Create a stack of cards with pictures that represent words beginning with two initial consonants that you would like the child to work on, for example l and t. Have children say the word and match the picture with the correct initial sound. Invite them to think of other words that might be included in each stack.