Children begin acquiring their verbal vocabularies, words they are able to speak, from the moment they become aware of conversations occurring around them. By the time they start school, most children have verbal vocabularies consisting of thousands of words. In contrast, when entering kindergarten, children’s written vocabularies, or words they are able to read, are considerably less. The most effective way of increasing the written vocabularies of children between the ages of 5 and 8 and, thereby, helping them become better readers is through phonics.
Phonics is a method of teaching someone to read and to spell using the relationship between sounds and letters to help decode words. In the first phase, children learn the relationship between written letters and the sounds the letters produce. In this phase, children usually begin by learning vowels and their short sounds. Next, they are taught the consonants and their sounds. Thereafter, children are taught to blend the short vowel sounds and consonant together in order to sound out and spell short words such as “cat” or “hat”. Then, they are taught the long vowel sounds. In the second phase, children learn the sounds that letter combinations make such as “th” and “ch”. In the last phase, children use their knowledge of letters and sounds to blend them together to sound out and spell more complicated words. Once children reach this step, they can decode a large portion of the English language.
There are two approaches to teaching phonics, incidentally or systematically. Incidental phonics instruction teaches phonics whenever an element appears in the text being read. A more beneficial approach to teaching phonics is systematic phonics instruction. In systematic phonics instruction, elements of phonics are taught in a pre-planned sequence that is both organized and logical. It begins with teaching easy sounds first and continues to more difficult sounds as it progresses.
Phonics is an important foundation to a child’s learning that not only helps in their early years but also later in life. Children who have been taught phonics tend to start reading earlier and enjoy reading more often than children who were not taught phonics. The love of reading helps children develop a larger vocabulary which in turns improves reading comprehension. Better reading comprehension skills generally result in a more confident student which helps across all subject areas.Filed under phonics | Comments Off