Reading opens up a new world of imagination and creativity. Nothing beats reading a storybook, not even watching a movie adapted from a book.
To be able to read at a young age means that your child will be able to follow instructions and lessons at school much easier, especially when they enrol into Primary 1.
Fortunately, one of the proven methods to support your child’s reading is phonics which helps your child to identify keywords, increase confidence in reading thus making reading enjoyable.
Here are some things you need to know about phonics and some tips to help your child learn it.
What is Phonics? Why is it important?
Phonics helps a person read words with the help of letter sounds.
Children in preschool or nursery learn reading faster when their listening skills are developed first. Teachers help them differentiate between different word sounds before moving to letter names. Likewise, you can do the same at home with your child.
The alphabet is also taught in a specific order and children are taught one sound per letter. As they progress, they will start sounding out words and read them out. They will also learn how certain letters produce different sounds.
Once they learn how to read words which uses simple tones, they will also learn complex words. When they finish primary 1, these children will now be able to use common words, spell and learn new words.
How Can You Help Your Child?
Keeping it easy and fun
Phonics helps children learn how to read faster and flawlessly as possible. It will also help them read the stories they like. Reading should be fun and it should not be seen as a chore to master.
If you are helping your child out, do not forget these tips below to keep things fun:
• Make your phonics session specific and short. Make sure to stop before your child gets bored. Usually, phonics sessions take only 10 minutes.
• Try to add some fun and games when you do phonics sessions.
• Do your phonics session when your child is not too distracted or tired from school or play. You should also set up a quiet room for them to concentrate during these phonics sessions.
• As your child improves reading on their own, do not stop trying to read to them. Your child is still unfamiliar with certain words so you will need to help them with them. It is also a great way to bond with them, especially as you tell them the stories you love.
• If you see that your child’s reading is not improving, don’t hesitate to speak to their teacher or engage an English tutor. Tell them what you have seen and ask what you can do to help your child. They will be able to determine what is wrong and what would fit your child’s learning style.
Preschool and nursery
Nowadays, plenty of nurseries and preschools incorporate phonics lessons in their curriculum. The popular frameworks used in schools are Jolly Phonics and Letterland.
During their classes, teachers can help children discover their learning style and help them use it to learn how to read. Children will learn how to read with the help of songs and play as they make different sounds. They will become familiar with these sounds and learn how to repeat them.
At this stage, your child is undergoing Phase 1 of understanding phonics. They will also be able to do the following:
• Listen to the world around them and copy the sounds they hear. The most common sounds your child will mimic are animal sounds and cars.
• Improvise in making these sounds with their body and voice.
• Pick up rhyming words and learn how to spot them.
• Listen to words and split them to determine the sounds which form the word.
These phonics do not sound like reading at first but it does create a good foundation for the next stage of phonics. To further encourage your child in phonics, you can revise what has been taught in school at home.
Phonic fun with young children
• When teaching phonics, use your child’s likes and hobbies to get their attention. If they like cars, see how many car noises they could repeat. Would they be able to make the sound you are doing and tell you what car made that sound? You can also encourage them to make the right noises during playtime if they are playing with their cars or animal toys.
• If you are going out with them, listen for sounds and see if your child can determine what made that sound. You can even ask them to repeat it for you.
• Sing nursery rhymes with them or their favourite soundtrack. Are they able to keep up and recognize which words rhymes? While singing nursery rhymes, teach your child which words rhymes by clapping. When you repeat the song, will your child be able to recognize the words? Can they create their own rhythm which you can repeat?
Tips for parents and tutors: Phonics buzz-words
If you are still confused about what phonics means, here are some buzz-words that will guide you.
• Phonics: uses sound made by letters and letter combinations to read words.
• Decoding: uses phonics to read words.
• Grapheme: a letter or a group of letters like “she”, “a” or “air”.
• Digraph: two letters which make one sound when you read them, for example, “ai”
• Phoneme: the sound letters or a group of letters make. For example, ‘hat’ has three phonemes.
• Sounding out: uses phonics to say all the sounds found in a word.
• Blending: mixes the sounds together to read a word.
• Common exception words: words which cannot be read with phonics. Children are often taught these words early to help them spot these words. Some examples include ‘the’ and ‘where.’
Reading can help your child discover new worlds that would tickle their imagination. It will also help them understand the world better. With phonics, your child will be able to pick up reading faster and love it.
For more helpful tips to improve your child’s reading, here are some articles:
How to Increase Active Reading with Post-It Notes
How To Teach Your Singapore Child To Love Reading From A Young Age