Author Kate DiCamillo once said, “Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift”.
This could not have been said any better.
What is the difference between reading programmes for kids and a phonics class?
Most people invariably link reading to phonics and assume that a child will be able to read effectively after mastering phonics. Phonics is but one of the eight essential skills of reading. The other essential reading skills that make one a strong reader and writer for life are engagement, active understanding, narrative intelligence and higher order thinking skills, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary building and structural awareness.
Failing to read by primary school can hinder your child’s progress in class and they will lag behind their peers. Conversely, a child that can read at a young age gets a head start in their learning journey.
So, why is it recommended to enrol your child in a reading programme over a pure phonics class in Singapore?
What to look out for in a Reading Programme for Kids
A reading programme should have qualified and experienced educators to bring across the content in a manner that is engaging for children. This can include creative in-class activities such as songs, rhymes, poems and more.
To maintain consistency in the learning progress, the reading programme should ideally provide a method for children to revise at home under the supervision of their parents. For example, children in the MindChamps Reading Programme can utilise the MindChamps Read-Along app, a highly interactive eBook collection containing material from books used in the classroom to supplement their understanding in a fun and enjoyable manner after class.
While there are many benefits to having your children attend reading programmes for kids, learning phonics in isolation has its limitations. English as a language is complex and it is insufficient to rely on phonetic decoding alone. A word that sounds the same can have different meanings depending on the context. For example, “bat” can refer to the animal that lives in caves or the baseball bat.
Rather than enrol your child in a phonics class in Singapore, a reading programme that covers phonics as part of its curriculum may be a better choice, as recommended by literacy experts.
How children progress after attending reading programmes
The aim of reading programmes for kids is to cultivate children into skilled readers. A good reading programme will use positive motivation, as this helps children gain interest and excitement to read more. This, in turn, makes them more confident as they polish their ability to read.
Children who read from memory or those who struggle with phonics may find it easier to cope in a reading programme which provides clear phonics instructions. In the MindChamps Reading Programme, children learn Integrated Phonics, where word sounds are taught by blending graphemes and phonemes.
In the beginner’s level, children will be able to recognise the sounds and letters of the alphabet, grasp the basic concept of punctuation and capital letters, as well as write their own name and some three- to four-letter words with guidance.
Intermediate readers will continue developing their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills by listening to a wide range of text formats, reading stories by themselves and reading and writing about what they have read. These written and oral comprehension techniques help to boost their understanding of what is being read.
Once your child has gained confidence and fluency in reading, they will learn how to use their own experiences to express their thoughts, feelings and ideas verbally or in writing to connect themes and ideas. The reading programme will ensure that they are able to read comprehension passages and use punctuation, grammar structures, pronouns, conjunctions and adverbial phrases accurately to compose short stories.
Over time, a reading programme which covers multiple aspects of reading can truly benefit your child and transform them into a confident, fluent reader who can express their thoughts and ideas in greater detail.
Written by Jamie Koh