‘Phonics’ is a common parenting buzzword these days. You might have seen the word pop up when you were researching about enrichment classes for your kids. Or maybe you have passed by a banner or a poster advertising teaching of phonics classes for children.
But what exactly is phonics? What sort of benefits does it have for our children and why is it useful? And when should we start teaching phonics to our kids?
What is phonics?
Phonics refers to the relationship between letters and the way they sound. It is one of the basic building blocks of the English language. Phonics is an excellent way of teaching children how to read. The aim is to help readers to identify the sounds that the letters make to help them string together the collective sounds that make a word.
Why is phonics important for children?
Because phonics knowledge leads to word knowledge, when children understand the concept of phonics, it means that they will be able to apply their knowledge and read longer words that they have not seen before. If children learn reading by rote, they will not know how to read unfamiliar words.
Studies have shown that learning phonics can have a dramatic positive effect on helping children learn how to read fluently, accurately, and capably – with little effort.
I’m convinced! So when should children start learning phonics?
Research shows that children are ready to start phonics programmes when they have learned to identify all the letters of the alphabet – which is usually somewhere between three and four years of age. Pre-readers can only understand the basic concept of phonics when they already know what the letters look like and can name them.
Secondly, children are also ready to learn phonics when they have phonological awareness. It means that they are able to separate words into their various different sounds (did you know English has 44 syllable sounds?) and pronounce them. Phonological awareness is learnt through singing, rhyming, and dividing words into individual sounds. That is just one reason why the MindChamps Reading Programme uses ‘Say and Sing Phonics’, a specially crafted method for learning phonics that integrates music into the learning experience.
Children can also start on phonics when they can confidently grasp the idea of how reading works. This means that our kids benefit greatly from being read to often. When adults read books to children, the kids develop an understanding that the combinations of letters on the page represent words. They grow familiar with the concept of uppercase and lowercase letters. On top of that, they know that in English, words go from left to right. These are all concepts that will help kick off your children’s phonics learning journey.
The earlier your child is able to start a phonics class, the easier and faster the journey into the world of reading!
What is a recommended phonics class for my children?
Enrichment classes can be a great way to introduce your children to phonics. Teaching phonics to children by trained and experienced educators is important, as not all teachers have received specific instruction in phonics. Furthermore, remember that phonics is only one element. It works best when it is integrated into a comprehensive literacy programme that includes practice in comprehension, fluency, vocabulary, writing, and thinking.
The MindChamps Reading Programme is a recommended phonics class that is your one-stop answer to all these requirements. It has three different levels that for children between three and seven years of age. On top of that it interweaves phonics instruction into a holistic reading approach for the best possible results.
Written by JoBeth Williams
Want to find out if your kids are ready for the MindChamps Reading Programme which includes Phonics Classes?