Phonic Sounds Insights

I want to share with you some of my phonic sounds insights, particularly as they apply to the process of learning to read and write.

Phonic Sounds Insight # 1

If people want to learn something well enough to become good at it, in almost all cases, they need to be taught.

You would think that if you had enough talent you wouldn't need to be shown. You could figure it out by yourself.

Try thinking about it like this. Do you know of any famous person who hasn't had someone to train and guide them throughout their career? Olympians, musicians and dancers all rely on someone with more experience than they have to take them through the steps needed to become good at what they do.

It's the same thing with reading and writing. Most children, if they are to be successful readers, spellers and writers must be taught step by step and at their own pace.

Most of us don't turn out to be world-famous. We have to go out and find a more regular job and that means being able to read and write well.

The process of reading (decoding) and writing (encoding) is all about pulling words apart to read and putting them together to write...a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle.

Writing and spelling develop alongside reading if phonic sounds are taught skilfully. When your child learns the appropriate phonic skills to be able to read different combinations of letters, these other skills evolve.

Phonic Sounds Insight # 2

I've taught literacy skills to many students from early readers, aged 4 to adults, aged 60. What I have consistently noticed is that if children and adults do not learn phonic sounds, their reading, writing, spelling and comprehension come to a halt.

They end up with worrying gaps in their literacy skills.

As a teacher of reading, I recommend your child is introduced to initial phonic sounds from the age of about four.

When I say the initial phonics sounds, I mean the sounds the letters of the alphabet make, not their letter names. While knowing the letter names is important, knowing the other sounds they make is critical.

As I said earlier, there are many combinations of these sounds which your child needs to learn in managed stages. They need to be taught gradually over the time they learn to read and write.

Phonic Sounds Insight # 3

If you want to help you child at this early stage and check their knowledge of phonic sounds... here's what you can do.

Write the alphabet letters on a piece of paper but do not write them in order. Mix them up. Point to any letter and say, "What sound does this letter make?"

If, for example, you show them the letter 'c' your child might say, "It says cee."

At this point, avoid saying "No, that's not right." (That's because the alphabet name of the letter is pronounced 'cee'. What you are trying to get them to say is the sound it makes which is different.)

If they have told you the letter name instead of its sound, say instead, "That's the letter's name. Can you tell me the sound it makes?"

If your child is still unsure, gently tell them the sound then ask them to repeat it. If it has been pronounced correctly say, "Good, you know the sound that letter makes," then move on to the next one.

Take note of the sounds they don't know and these can then be taught and practised until they are easily remembered.

Phonic Sounds Insight # 4

School teachers, in most cases, do a marvellous but extraordinarily difficult job.

They really need you, as a parent, to work behind the scenes and ensure your child has grasped the different stages of reading as they teach it.

It all begins with phonic sounds which start with simple sounds and become more complex.

Don't be afraid to talk with your child's teacher and ask how you can help at home. Most teachers consider this very helpful and it makes their job easier. They should explain to you just how you can help.

In addition there are many games, worksheets and other activities you can access to give your child practice.

By taking it in manageable steps, your child can learn the necessary phonics skills which will teach them to read write and develop literacy skills.

Go From Phonic Sounds Insights to Teaching Phonics

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