If your child is learning to read and you are looking to help, it is essential that you become familiar with the term phonics.
Phonics is all about understanding that letters and sounds have a relationship, it is essentially the link between what we say and what we read and write. Sounding out words is the essence of the phonics method.
It is recommended that you introduce the sounds one at a time. Once your child has learnt the first few sounds they can begin to read.
The 44 sounds are usually taught in this order:
s, a, t, p, i, n
m, d, g, o, c, k/ck
e, u, r, h, b, f
l, j, v, w, x, y
z, qu, ch, sh, th, ng
ai, ee, igh/ie, oa, oo (short), oo (long)
ar, or, ur/er, ow/ou, oi
air, ear, ure
To help your child build a link between a letter and its associated sound, you can use phoneme cards. Simply show a card to your child and say the sound clearly and out loud and ask them to say it too.
To assist your child with blending sounds together to make words, say each of the sounds within the word and then merge them together to say the word.
Once your child has learnt these new sounds, you can help them to begin to spell, by identifying the individual sounds within a word and corresponding these sounds to the letters. Simply say a word, such as cat and encourage your child to break down its individual sounds, c, a, t, this is formally known as oral segmenting. Before your child writes the word down, ask them to tap out each sound before they write it, which will help them to recall the exact sequence of letters.
There are lots of simple things that you can do to assist and support your child learn phonics, here are just a few ideas:
Talk & Sing
Take time to talk to your child as much and as often as you can. Ask your child lots of probing questions and encourage them to talk and explain their answers thoroughly. Use new words as often as possible, so for the word small you could also say little or tiny, encourage your child to say these words too. This is not about them reading the words, it’s about them hearing them and repeating them.
Teach your child nursery rhymes and maximise all opportunities to sing and recite them.
Make time every day to read to your child or listen to your child read. When you are reading aloud, choose books with topics that excite your child and always read with enthusiasm, using different voices for different characters and try to use different tones and reflections to express different words.
When your child is reading, if they stumble on a word, encourage them to sound it out, however if they continue to struggle with the pronunciation, then say the word that they are struggling with slowly and out loud, then ask them to repeat it. Ask lots of questions about the story, like what do you think is going to happen next?
Easy as A, B, C
You can work on names. An obvious place to start is with teaching your child to spell their own name. Write their name on the whiteboard and ask your child to copy it using the magnetic letters or dry wipe pen.
You could also point to alphabet letters and say their names, or alternatively you can look out for letters on street signs, packaging or book covers. Look at letters, then say the letter name and the letter sound, then say a word that begins with that sound.
With any activity, always ensure that you pronounce the speech sounds clearly and as short as possible, for example the letter m has a short m sound, not a continual mmmmm sound. Also, make sure that your do not add an extra sound onto the speech sound, so the m sound is not m-uh.
We would love to hear about the activities you do with your child to help with their phonics. Please feel free to leave us a comment.
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