Teaching a child phonics is basically teaching a child the relationship between letters and sounds.
Unfortunately in the English language, this relationship is not entirely a straight forward one! There are the occasional exceptions, silent letters and accents to take into account.
After parents teach children how to pronounce each letter of the alphabet correctly, parents can start to teach children how to pair up single consonants with single vowels.
Parents can start to teach children phonics from the age of 5.
For example, parents can teach children how to pronounce letter combinations ending with the vowel “a”, such as “pa”,”ma”, “ga” and “sa”.
Once children are able to grasp the concept and logic behind combining any consonant with the vowel “a”. Parents can move move on to teaching children how to pronounce consonants combined with the letters “ea”, such as “tea”, “pea” and “sea”.
Parent should then teach children how to add the sound at the end of each word. Parent can use 4 letter words for this stage that at in the consonant + vowel + vowel + consonant format, such as “tear”, “bear”, “sour”, “pear”, “pour” and “near”.
By this stage, parent should be teaching children to break words up into the most logical syllables structure. The more children practice, the more easily they will be able to recognise the most likely syllable structure of any new word.
Parents should now start to teach children to break up words in syllables on their own then encourage them to create the appropriate sounds. Parents can start to teach using short paragraphs instead of single words.
The common syllables/letter combinations children should be able to recognise are:
- consonant + vowel pairs, i.e. “pa”, “po”, “so”, “ro”, “to” etc.
- consonant + “ea”, i.e. pear
- consonant + “ou”, i.e. could & would
- consonant +consonant + “ou”, i.e. proud, should, shoulder & trousers
- words ending with “er” & “ers”, i.e. firefighters & teachers
- words ending with “cles & “les”, i.e. circles, popsicles & articles
- words ending with “ist”, i.e. mist, fist, gist & list
Children must be encouraged to try their best to associate a sound to the words they read. As always, parents must pay careful attention to only push children to take on more when they are ready. Attempting to force a child to read a full sentence when he/she can only manage one or two words will do more harm than good.
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