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Tue, 04 May, 2021

How to Teach Phonics at Home: A 4-Step Parent's Guide and 5 Methods to Teach Phonics

How to teach phonics at home

What Is Phonics?

Phonics teaches children how to read and write by focusing on the relationship between letters and the way they sound.

The English language has 26 letters. The letters and their combinations have unique sounds that connect to form the words in the printed text. These letters can be manipulated to make 44 different sounds, of which 25 are consonant sounds and 19 are vowe,l sounds. These 44 sounds, represented by letters or letter combinations, are used to create words: the written and spoken. For example, the sound 'k' can be spelt as c, k or ck. Teaching this to a child will enable them to improve their reading comprehension and writing ability, as they begin to realise that the same sound can be spoken and spelt in different ways.

Why Is Phonics Important?

Teaching Phonics to your child is important because of the following:

  • It helps them know which letters to use when writing words.

  • It enables them to decode never-seen-before words.

  • It eliminates the need of memorising long lists of words!

How to Teach Phonics to Kids at Home

Here's the step-by-step guide for teaching Phonics at home to your preschooler:

  • Create Phonemic Awareness

    Play sound games to develop phonemic awareness. These activities don't involve letter symbols. The focus is on drawing attention to the speech sounds (phonemes) in spoken words. This step will prepare your child to understand that letters are symbols that represent speech sounds.

  • Connect Letter Symbols and Speech Sounds

    The next step is to help your child associate the speech sounds in spoken words with the written language's letter symbols. At this stage, since your preschooler has already developed some phonemic awareness, they will be able to identify at least the beginning sounds of spoken words, and the letter symbols will make sense to them.

    You can play sound-letter association games using Montessori sandpaper letters to develop muscular, visual, and auditory memory to help your child learn basic and advanced Phonics.

  • Apply Phonics Knowledge to Build Words

    In this step, use a Montessori moveable alphabet to show your child how to put speech sounds in a row represented by letter symbols. Your child will learn to use their growing phonics knowledge to express ideas through print.

  • Apply Phonics Knowledge to Decode Words

    Most children learn to read through the word building process. With enough practice of reading words, sentences and phrases using phonics knowledge, your child will develop word decoding skills. Encourage your child to memorise a few sight words to boost reading fluency. Once your child acquires basic knowledge of Phonics, you can introduce decodable readers to them so that they can practice the newly learned decoding skill.

Methods to Teach Phonics to Kids at Home

  • Use flashcards to introduce letters and sounds

    Buy, create or print a set of alphabet cards with letters either in upper case, lower case or both. Use these cards to practice sound recognition and letter recognition.

    Shuffle the cards and pick up a card and hold it up. Ask your child to say the name of the letter and also the sound it produces. Repeat this for all letters. For letters, such as "c", which produces more than one sound, like in "cat" and in "circle", you may need to provide extra guidance to your child.

    Now, add letter combination cards to this exercise. Use flashcards with common letter patterns (combination of two letters to produce one sound), such as digraphs: /sh/, /ch/, /th/, /wh/ and vowels in pair: /ea/, /ee/, /oa/, /ai/. With practice, your child will be able to learn letter patterns.

  • Use picture cards to match letter sounds

    Use picture flashcards that have at least one picture card that starts with each letter of the alphabet. Make sure that the child can easily recognise the pictures on the cards.

    To begin this exercise, pick a set of cards that has three beginning consonant sounds very different from each other. For example, pick up cards with sounds /b/, /s/, and /t/, and the pictures representing the sounds could be bear, bat, baby, spinner, spoon, sunflower, train, tap and tree. Ask your child to sort picture cards according to the beginning sounds they make, and then according to their ending sounds.

    After ample practice of sorting picture cards by their starting sounds and ending sounds, increase the difficulty level. Next, ask them to sort pictures according to their medial sound represented by the vowel pattern. For example, the vowel /e/ is represented in team, peas, seal, heel, and kneel. Another vowel, /o/, is in the words road, coat, boat, and toad.

    Eventually, you can have your child sort cards according to the beginning digraphs. For example, /ch/: cherries, chair; /sh/: sheep, shoe.

  • Fill in the blanks to make words

    Create a set of empty squares. Also, create letters to fill the empty squares. You can use a whiteboard or chalkboard to make empty squares, each to represent a sound in the chosen word. A three-letter C-V-C (Consonant-Vowel-Consonant) word is a good starting point. C-V-C word examples are: hat, mat, cat, cap, sat, tap, cab, bet, etc.

    Say the C-V-C word and ask your child to slowly repeat after you, pronouncing each sound in the word. Then, ask your child to select the letter for each of the sound. Ask them to build the C-V-C word by placing the first letter in the first empty square, moving from left to right. As the child gains confidence with C-V-C words, increase the difficulty level by introducing words with vowel pairs and/or digraphs.

  • Replace letters to make new words

    Introduce the concept of how by changing one letter in a word, an entirely new word can be built. Start with a C-V-C word, such as 'Cat'. Draw three boxes for the number of sounds heard in the word 'Cat.' Ask your child to spell, speak and listen to the sounds in the word. Then ask them to place the letters in the order of the sounds, from left to right.

    Next, ask your child to replace the letter 'C' in cat with the letter 'H' to build the word "Hat." Now, let your child spell, speak and listen to the sounds in the word "Hat." Increase the complexity level of the switches by introducing longer words and more letter patterns.

  • Read to reinforce Phonics

    Introduce books for kids that allow your child to strategically apply the skills learned to read words in books. Any book that's engaging and of appropriate skill level can be used. Some tips to follow for reinforcing Phonics with reading are:

    • Make reading a part of your daily routine together.

    • Allow your kid to pick the book they'd like to read.

    • Read aloud to children often. Do different voices and make the experience fun.

    • When reading, point at the words and enunciate the different sounds in the words as you read.

    • Ask lots of questions while reading to keep your child engaged.

    • Be an active and engaged listener when they read the book.

    • When they stumble on a word, don't rush to help. Try to sound it out first.

    • Re-read familiar books time and again with the same enthusiasm until your child is ready to move on to the next book.

Teaching Phonics to children in their early years is a crucial part of their literacy development. PlanetSpark's phonics course curriculum explores a comprehensive range of learning topics, intentionally and explicitly teaching the relationship between letters and sounds through play-based pedagogies.

Join the course now!