Teaching Phonics to Children
Teaching children how to read can be a daunting task, but it can be made less daunting when you understand how to teach phonics to children.
Teaching phonics to children is one of the most effective ways to help children learn how to read and to guide them through the early stages of reading.
As they grasp more difficult concepts, developing phonemic awareness will help them build upon their knowledge until they have developed solid reading skills both in and outside of school.
The following guide will help you understand what phonics are, why they are important, and how to best teach phonics to children.
What Are Phonics?
In order to understand this process, you need to know what phonics are in the first place. Phonics are the sounds made by individual letters and groups of letters; phonics are what help you understand how words which are comprised of these letter sounds need to be read.
The most important concepts in phones to know are:
Decoding; the ability to sound out and read words using the ‘codes’ of phonics
Grapheme; this refers to a letter or a group of letters, such as ‘a’ or ‘air’
Phoneme; this refers to the sound that a letter or group of letters makes, for instance the word “mat” has three phonemes, “m,” “a,” and finally “t”
Sounding out; this refers to the ability to use phonic knowledge to sound out each word gradually
Blending; this refers to the combination of phonic sounds to read an entire word
High frequency words; these are words which are used very often but can’t be “decoded” using phonics knowledge. High frequency words are also referred to as sight words.
Why Phonics Are Important
Phonics are important because they teach children the basic fundamentals they need in order to sound out words as they read them. Teaching children phonics allows them to understand the building blocks that will help them to read more difficult words as time goes on.
When children understand these building blocks, they will also find it much easier to decode words on their own or at least have the ability to attempt to decode words on their own. The more words they can sound out, and the more basics they understand, the stronger their reading skills.
Tips for Teaching Your Children Phonics
Phonemic awareness is an important skill that will help children in school and in life.
There are many tips to teaching children phonics; the following tips are some of the most important to keep in mind as you help guide children through the fundamentals of phonics learning.
Tip #1: Keep teaching sessions short and focused
It can be tempting to try to sit children down for an hour in order to cover an extensive phonics lesson, but children learn best in short spurts. Aim for lessons to be about 10 minutes long at most, so that you can stop before your child gets bored or frustrated. Focus on one phonics sound for each lesson.
Tip #2: Keep it fun
Children will look forward to learning when it’s fun, so keep things as fun as possible. Incorporate phonics games into your lessons in order to keep them entertained and to avoid them disliking the lessons.
Tip #3: Do your lessons when the child has energy
Children learn best when they aren’t tired, so pick a time during the day when they have plenty of energy. The best time tends to be in the morning after they have had time to eat and get energized, but if they are in school, you may need to wait until after school for your phonics lessons.
Tip #4: Keep lessons distraction free
Children need to be focused during the lesson, so make sure that the lessons are distraction free. This means a quiet area with no screens and ideally no other people. In some cases, it may be beneficial to stop by a library that has a tutoring or study area where you can give short lessons in a distraction-free environment.
Tip #5: Read, read, read
It’s essential to keep reading to your children as you teach them how to understand phonics. The more you read together, the stronger their skills.
Here’s a video which can provide more insight for this process:
What To Do When Your Child is Struggling
It’s not uncommon for children to struggle with phonics. If your child is struggling, it’s important to be persistent and to understand that this is just a stumbling block that will be overcome. If your child is struggling, consider the following tips:
Shorten your phonics sessions by a minute or two if they seem to be having trouble focusing for that long
Stop lessons if your child is tired or frustrated; it’s better to have a short, happy session than a long and frustrating one
Look for books and lessons related to your child’s interests to increase their enjoyment of the lessons and books
Set a good example by allowing your child to see you reading in order to encourage them to read on their own
Read to your child regularly and let them pick books that hold their interest