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Is Phonics The Best Way To Teach Reading?

by on 02/07/2018     557 1674

What Is Phonics

What does learning phonics actually mean? Does a child need to learn phonics to learn to read? Is teaching phonics effective? What is phonics? These are some of the questions the article seeks to answer. Read on…

"Phonics is a method of teaching people to read by correlating sounds with symbols in an alphabetic writing system," says Oxford Dictionary. Simply put, phonics is precisely what constitutes a relationship between letters and the sounds that they make in written words.

Reading thus occurs when the child is able to understand the relationship between sounds and letters. Each letter of the alphabet doesn't necessarily produce one and only sound. What this means is, each of them can represent a number of different sounds.

Is Phonics Reading Important?

Phonics reading is highly essential in the education of children. Learning phonics helps children to learn how to spell and pronounce words correctly. It would be harder to expect children to spell any word accurately, or understand them, if the child doesn't know the science behind it: why did the letter make the sound it made.

Phonics is about teaching a child to learn to recognise sounds in words to learn to spell them correctly. In the long run, it helps them recognise and associate sounds with any letters of the alphabet when s/he reads, thus improving their fluency in reading.

Fluency in reading doesn't necessarily mean reading fast. Fluency in this context means the ability to read text accurately. Phonics reading improves reading comprehension and fluency in children. Knowing how to pronounce words correctly is key to understanding the meaning of the said word that s/he reads. When a child is taught phonics, s/he can pronounce any unknown, given words with ease.

At What Age Phonics Is Usually Taught?

It's crucial that a child is taught about phonics in the early years. Phonics is commonly taught in kindergarten. It depends on which kindergarten you send your child to. Some kindergartens do teach phonics. Some opted not to do so. It's therefore important that you call and enquire the kindergarten on the teaching of phonics. But bear in mind that children learn at different rates. Some children are fast learners. Some need more phonics instruction. Some children are ready to learn phonics way before kindergarten. Some children do best with more phonics instruction even after kindergarten.

What Can We, As Parents Do?

Prior to phonics instruction in kindergarten, you may try reading aloud to your child. Many findings and reading experts continue to agree that it's never too early to read with a child. What's more, reading with your child helps them understand about the concept of print, such as why you read text from front to back, left to right and top to bottom and so forth.

Fun Hands-On Phonics Activities For Your Kids

1) Talk To Your Child

  • You can do this in three different ways. First, you simply explain to the child what is s/he doing at the moment. For instance, "you're pushing the toy car," or "you're playing with LEGO bricks." Second, you may try descriptive talk. You start with a number of simple words that best describe the toy your child is playing with. In this case, the toy car and LEGO bricks. For instance, you can say "the toy car is red in colour." Third, you explain what you're doing to your child. "I'm drawing a tree with a house beside it." Conversations like these may seem unnecessary, but in the long run, it helps kids develop their language skills.

2) Sing To Your Child

  • Music is a great learning tool for anyone who wants to learn words and languages. Sing your favourite nursery rhymes with your child. Pick the one that your child particularly enjoys. Here are a few nursery rhymes to get you started.

    • Mary had a Little Lamb
    • Eensy Weensy Spider
    • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
    • Old MacDonald Had A Farm
    • Hickory Dickory Dock
    • Itsy Bitsy Spider
    • Three Little Kittens
    • Baa, Baa, Black Sheep
    • London Bridge is Falling Down
    • Ladybird, Ladybird

3) Use Worksheets

  • Design a worksheet. In it, you put words and pictures. You may design one with the help of Microsoft Word or simply by hand. Draw a table with five columns and four to five rows in it. Attach a picture of the word in the first box of the table, followed by letters in other boxes on its right. Take one letter out on each column. Let your child complete the missing letter.

4) Alphabet Colouring

  • Here, printable alphabet letter images you can download and print. Your child can begin filling them with colour. Use different colours for each letter. As s/he begins to fill the letter with colour, talk to him/her about the letter, perhaps words that can be produced with that letter.

What The Research Says

"Writing is a code for spoken language, and phonics provides instruction for children in how to crack that code. Phonics is an essential basis for becoming a good reader, but it isn't enough on its own-one aim of our review was to describe the other key ingredients that must be combined with phonics to support good reading development."- Anne Castles

"We decided to bring this knowledge together in one place to provide an accessible overview. We didn't want it to be buried in the scientific literature, we wanted it to be useful to teachers charged with the vital task of teaching children to read."- Kate Nation

"We have a really strong scientific understanding of how children learn to read, and there is no longer any need for 'reading wars.' Our review describes this evidence base, and provides concrete recommendations for drawing on it in the classroom" - Kathleen Rastle.

Furthermore, several research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General has indicated that the provision of systematic phonics instruction helps improves the accuracy of reading aloud and comprehension.