What is Phonics?
Phonics instructions teach children how to decode and encode unfamiliar words.
Starting with the basics, this solid foundation gives children confidence and allows them to read and write thousands of words.
Children gradually progress from letter sounds to reading words to phrases, then sentences, and finally books. A solid foundation in reading and writing is essential for a child’s academic success. Let’s understand how phonics works.
Phonics is essential for a child’s literacy development. The ability to connect letter symbols to their sounds is the foundation for learning to read and spell. Like, the letter “Aa” makes the sound /a/, the letter “Ss” makes the sound /s/, and the letter “Cc” makes the sound /c/.
Children must learn that each letter has a sound and each word is composed of sounds.
“Pig” is made up of three sounds: /p/, /i/, and /g/.
“Rain” has three sounds: /r/, /ai/, /n/.
The word “bee” is composed of two sounds: /b/ and /ee/.
The word “chain” has three sounds: /ch/, /ai/ and /n/.
This is referred to as phonemic awareness.
With this knowledge, children will be able to decode words to read. For example, if a child wants to read the word “cat,” he will notice that the word ‘cat’ is made up of three sounds: /c/-/a/-/t/, and when these sounds are blended, we get the word ‘cat.’
The skill of spelling is called segmenting. Children learn to hear the individual sounds in a word and choose the correct letters for those sounds to write the spellings.
For example, to write the word “dog,” one first needs to hear that “dog” is made up of three sounds /d-o-g/ and know what each sound symbol looks like and how to write it.
Though this might seem like a complex process, studies show early exposure to the teachings of phonics significantly impact a child’s reading and writing abilities.
So, engage your child in phonics activities as early as possible. It will help to build a solid foundation in reading and writing skills.
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How Phonics Works?
Phonics is a method for teaching children to read and write. Words are composed of sounds. There are 44 sounds in the English language, represented by 26 letters of the alphabet.
These sounds are called phonemes.
A grapheme is a written symbol that represents a sound or phoneme.
The relationship between the phoneme and grapheme is called phoneme-grapheme correspondence or letter sound relationship.
Blending is the skill of putting sounds together to read words.
To read, children look at the letters of a word from left to right, say the sounds, and blend the sounds to listen for the word. As /c-a-t/ => cat;
/h-e-n/ => hen
Or /f-i-sh/ => fish
Segmenting is the ability to identify the individual sounds in a word. Segmenting skill is used for spelling.
For example, to spell the word “dog”, one needs to hear the sounds in the word /d-o-g/ and write the letters associated with those sounds.
This skill is known as segmenting.
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Blending and segmenting are just opposites of each other.
To read or spell effectively, children should be fluent with the letter sounds, and letter-sound correspondence should be properly established.
Blending and segmenting skills should be practiced together. This helps children understand the mechanisms of reading and spelling. And children learn to blend and segment faster.
Digraphs are two letters and one sound.
Like < ai> as in rain, pain, snail.
<oa> as in toad, boat, and goat.
<ee> as in bee, tree, and jeep.
<ie> as in tie, pie, fries.
<oo> as in moon, spoon, boot.
<ou> as in cloud, mountain,
Notice there are two digraphs in “mountain”.
<oi> as in boil, soil, foil, and there are many more.
Words that begin with two or three consonants, such as train, brush, or street, can be difficult to blend for children.
If children say the sounds /t-r-ai-n/ or /s-t-r-ee–t/ it will be difficult for them to hear the word. Children will find it much easier to hear the word if they learn to blend the consonants and say them together: /tr-ai-n/ and /str-ee-t/.
Consonant blends are a set of two to three consonant letters which retain their individual sounds when pronounced together. Consonant blends can come at the beginning, middle or end of a word.
Tricky Words/ Sight Words
Some words cannot be sounded out.
It doesn’t make sense if the sounds of the word ‘the’ are blended.
Words like these should be learned by sight.
‘By’, ‘my’, ‘he’, ‘she’ , ‘before’, ‘because’ are few examples of tricky words.
Magic ‘e’, makes a short vowel sound long.
Magic ‘e’, with its magical power, influences the vowel, which is one consonant away.
Magic ‘e’ taps the vowel with its magic wand and commands, “Vowel, forget your sound and say your name!” After performing the magic, Magic ‘e’ is too tired to make a sound, so he remains silent.
- mad – made
- kit – kite
- cub – cube
Two letters are needed to make the long vowel sounds in these words; however, these letters are not next to each other, as can be seen in cake, cube, pine, and hope. There is another letter, a consonant, in between the two vowels. Even so, the second vowel influences the first one and changes the sound from a short vowel to a long one. That is why ‘a_e’, ‘e_e’, ‘i_e’, ‘o_e’, and ‘u_e’ are referred to as split digraphs.
Alternate Spellings of Sounds
Some phonemes or sounds can be represented by different graphemes.
Let’s take the example of the sound <ay>.
In different words, the <ay> sound can be represented by any of these graphemes.
- <ai> as in rain, paint, brain
- <a_e> as in cake, made, plate
- <ay> as in day, hay, play
- Synthetic-phonics instruction teaches children to decode and encode words.
- Starting with the basics, this strong foundation instills confidence in children and allows them to read and write thousands of words effortlessly.
- Children gradually progress from reading words to phrases, then sentences, and finally books.
- Spelling is much easier than reading. Because the same sounds can be represented in different ways
- Reading is more than just word decoding. It is essential to comprehend the meaning.
- Comprehension abilities can be developed through speaking, listening, and reading.
- Children should be encouraged to read various kinds of books to increase their comprehension skills and vocabulary.