What the ‘ph?’ is phonics some of you new parents may be thinking. Phonics is used throughout the school system today to help children learn to read. Phonics is basically the sounds that make up a word. For example: ‘Shop’ has three sounds Sh-o-p.  The idea is that you teach children to hear and make sounds first.

Nursery Rhymes like ‘Old Macdonald’ and ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ are great for this.

Start by encouraging children to hear sounds in words.  Eg. Can you hear the mmmmmmm in Mum?  Can you hear the oooooo in moooooo?  Generally children will hear the initial sounds in words first, then the final sound and finally the middle sounds.

It is also a great idea to teach your children the phonic sounds of letters to get them ready rather than the ABC songs we are all more used to.

Phonics – A Jargon Breakdown

You will probably hear the terms ‘segmenting’ and ‘blending’.  Segmenting is taking the words apart and blending is putting sounds together to make a word.

Play little games like:

“Can you point to the b – e – d?”

“Can you get mummy the c-u-p?”

You could try breaking up words together or simply play I spy. “I spy something beginning with the sound rrrrr.”

Try to make it as fun as possible.

You might start looking at letters but try to introduce them by the sounds they make and not their names first.  Be careful to not add an ‘a’ to a sound, for example ‘d’ not ‘da’.

Ask Your School What Sort of Phonics Scheme They Follow

Many schools in East London follow Ruth Miskin’s Read Write Inc   but there are a number of different phonics schemes that your kid’s school so it’s worth checking first.  Some teach all of the ways to make a sound, for example, ‘ai’, ‘ay’ and ‘a_e’ all make the long ‘a’ sound (maid, may, made). Other schools encourage children to learn one way first and then teach them the alternatives later.

Most schemes have websites so you can always do some investigation of your own.