Parenting is a crucial task whose main objective is to mould children into well-functioning young adults. Amongst others, a critical task for parents is to help develop their child’s linguistic skills. Helping toddlers learn a language is challenging because language is a crucial life skill. Children during this age can learn their native language more easily than non-native languages like English. Given that most educational institutions provide their teaching materials in English, English is an essential language that a child must be taught to speak, write, and understand.
The core of any language is sound and words. Associating various sounds with their corresponding words is crucial to learning a language, especially English. Phonics is a learning approach that helps individuals associate sounds with different letters and allows them to read the words. Phonics, in recent times, has emerged as the most popular method to teach young kids the skill of reading.
Thus, teaching children how to associate sounds and read words forms any parents’ priority. It is definitely a tricky task, however, worry not, this article has been written to help parents precisely with that. Read on to find some easy ways to teach phonics to your kids!
Basic Concepts Of Phonics
Before diving into the best methods for teaching children phonics, we must first learn what phonics is. Moreover, possessing an understanding of some basic concepts related to pronunciation can significantly help ease the task of teaching. ‘
Phonics is a method of teaching reading that uses an alphabetic writing system to link sounds and symbols. This method has been adopted in most modern educational systems, including India.
A few basic concepts related to phonics are as follows:
- Phonemes: Phoneme is the smallest unit of speech which can convey a distinct meaning. In a more straightforward sense, they are word sounds. The English language consists of 44-word sounds or phonemes. They help differentiate the pronunciation or definition of a word.
For example, the word “cat” has three phonemes- ‘c’, ‘a, and ‘t’.
- Graphemes: Graphemes are written letters used to represent a sound or a phoneme. It can be either a single letter or a group of letters.
- Diagraph: A digraph is a grapheme with two letters with only one sound, like “Ch” in the word “chart.”
- Trigraph: A trigraph is any grapheme consisting of three letters that make a single sound, “tch” in “match”.
- Blending: Phonics blending is a method by which students seamlessly combine the various sound spellings of a word.
- Segmenting: After hearing words, students use segmenting to determine how to write them. To figure out how to write a spoken word, they break it down into its separate phonemes. The process of spelling begins here.
- High-Frequency Words: High-frequency words are frequently used words such as “one”, “and”, “said,” etc., that are used while writing. Children are encouraged to remember these words as a whole by sight.
Why Is Phonics Important?
Phonics has been recognised as an effective method for cultivating reading skills among young students. Parents must understand that often, words in the English language are not always spelt according to what they look like; for example, the term “phonics” itself starts with a “ph”, which actually sounds like “f”.
Children can connect unknown print terms to their spoken knowledge if they are familiar with letter-sound relationships. Furthermore, knowing letter-sound relationships helps build familiarity with the words. When understanding builds, the child can relate the word to a certain meaning attached to it.
Therefore, the phonics method helps children understand such letter-sound relationships and helps build familiarity with words in the English language. It thereby strengthens the reading as well as retention skills of a child.
Phonics is taught to children according to the level of schooling they are enrolled in. This helps prepare students for the skill of reading in a systematic and step-by-step manner. Parents must keep this in mind as well while teaching their children phonics. They must teach according to their child ‘s level of comprehension and avoid going overboard.
Methods To Help Your Child With Phonics
We finally come to the main discussion of our article. Parents can adopt several methods to teach their children phonics.
The key to reading and writing is active listening. Parents must try to incorporate language into their daily lives as much as possible. This should be done in a manner that excites and interests their kids, so they do not lose attention. Another rule of thumb to be followed is to have fun with children. Since schools already incorporate phonics in their curriculum, parents can learn what methods are being adopted and what is being taught in their kids’ classrooms and create teaching activities parallel to the curriculum.
A few methods to teach your kid phonics are as follows:
- Inculcate Reading Habits: Inculcating interest in reading is one helpful method. Parents can introduce their children to the world of reading in myriad ways. For pre-schoolers, picture books can be a great tool to inculcate reading habits. For children in primary schooling, choosing books specifically meant to be read by such age groups can help. Parents can introduce interesting fiction genres such as adventure and fantasy, which can enamour a child’s mind and help develop a love for reading.
- Incorporate Speaking Activities: Speaking to your children in English is a great way to boost their familiarity with the sounds of the language. You can engage in some good old story-telling sessions for your children. You can also have sing-along activities, encouraging your child to sing rhymes along with you.
- Playing Phonic Games: The way to a kid’s heart is a game. Games are highly-enriching and fun activities that can keep a child’s enthusiasm for learning high. There are several games a parent can use for teaching phonics to their children.
One such game is “All ears”. In this game, the children must be asked to listen to any sound, such as a bird, animal, insect, vehicle, etc.; they must then be asked to imitate such sounds. You can also set a time limit and ask them to identify various sounds in their environment and imitate them.
“Finding letters” is another fun game. This game involves the parents asking their child to identify letters in their name appearing at any other place. Once they find such a place, they can be asked to explain the object or place and how it should be spelt and pronounced.
- Using Visual Exercises: By linking ideas, words, and concepts with visuals, learners are better able to absorb and remember knowledge, which is a skill that may be developed through visual learning.
Visual exercises can include ‘letter formation posters’, which show how letters are formed and relate the different sounds to their notes pictorially. Parents can also use picture books that associate words with objects and sounds in a colourful manner.
‘Alphabet- prompt maps’ are also a great visual learning tool.
- Letter-Choosing Exercises: An excellent method to teach children phonics is to conduct letter-choosing exercises at home. Parents can make a sound and ask their children to identify which letter it corresponds to. They can also ask them to write the letter on a sheet of paper along with a few words starting with the sound made.
- Incorporate Their Hobbies: Helping your children learn while having fun is essential to your child’s logical development. Hobbies can be an excellent manner to integrate fun and learning. For example, if the child loves to paint, parents can ask them to imitate sounds and paint the letters associated with such sounds.
These are some easy and practical techniques to help teach your child phonics. Parents must remember one rule while doing so- make learning fun! Children are intuitive with imaginative minds, and stimulating their creative senses through informative exercises is a sure-shot way of teaching them phonics in a productive manner.