Is your child in that exciting stage when he is learning how to read?
Regardless if you are teaching him yourself or he is learning in school, unlocking the art of reading is a fascinating time for both the parents and the child.
You will find a variety of teaching techniques you would want to familiarize yourself with at this stage.
Often, you will hear about phonics. But what are phonic words, anyway?
As we talk about that today, we would also share with you a reading program that can help your child master his reading skills.
In fact, Children Learning Reading claims to help your child learn how to read in just 10 weeks.
- What Is Phonic Sound Word?
- What Are Phonic Words?
- How Do You Teach Phonics Words?
- A Basic Guide to Teaching Phonics
- Children Learning Reading
What Is Phonic Sound Word?
So, what is phonics? In a nutshell, it is a teaching method for reading that focuses on two main elements: phonemes and graphemes.
This approach emphasizes the relationship between letters as images and sounds and, when combined, their meaning.
While many educators prefer it, it is still an ongoing debate whether it is a better method than the whole language approach.
We are not going to flesh out the whole language approach too much, given this article’s focus.
To give you a point comparison, this teaching method puts focus on core words (or sight words) to be read as a whole word instead of enunciating each letter sound, such as in phonics.
In the end, it will be up to you to decide which method is best for your student or child.
What Are Phonemes and Graphemes?
For now, let us define phonemes and graphemes to understand phonics better.
Phonemes are the sounds produced by letters or letter combinations (also referred to as clutters).
On the other hand, graphemes are the symbols that represent these sounds—the lines and shapes that make up the letters.
Teaching your child the relationship between the two make up phonics.
What Are Phonic Words?
To summarize, phonic words are words composed of the basic units of reading, the phonemes and graphemes.
They are usually structured in a simple way to assist beginner readers better.
If that is the case, does this mean it is the best approach to teaching reading?
It is possible for a child to learn how to read without following this approach, but many teachers and parents find this to be a very effective method.
Why Is Teaching Phonics Important?
The phonics approach is reliable and effective because it breaks down a word into smaller units of letters and sounds.
There are 44 phonemes all in all, which may sound like a lot, but it’s really not.
Just teaching your child the alphabet and each letter’s sound already takes you halfway there.
Compare it for a while with the whole language approach.
There are thousands of words out there.
Memorizing them all just so you could read them (as you would core words) will prove impossible to accomplish, especially for beginner readers.
Don’t get us wrong. The whole language approach has its own merits, and it has produced a lot of readers already.
We simply believe that the phonics method is much easier for non-readers to grasp.
How Do You Teach Phonics Words?
Now that you know what are phonic words, let’s move on to the different ways to teach phonics to a child.
We will share what those are below, along with a quick step-by-step guide you can already start teaching with.
Four Ways of Phonics Instruction
Based on your chosen approach, there are four different ways in which you can teach phonics to your child:
Among the four, this is the most popular method chosen by many educators.
It is an approach that teaches the phonemes associated with each grapheme or letter.
These sounds are pronounced one at a time and then blended together to form the word.
It would come as no surprise if this were the technique used to teach you how to read.
This is a teaching method more commonly used in Scotland.
It focuses on phonemes and graphemes, but instead of pronouncing each unit of sound, children are encouraged to recognize the focused phoneme instead.
Only then can they move on to reading the whole word.
For example, when teaching the phoneme and grapheme for the letter “m” or the “mmm” sound, you will present your child a collection of words that have this letter and sound.
These could be “mat,” “make,” “mark,” to name a few. You then ask the student to determine the common sound between the words.
This phonics approach focuses on phonograms, which are words composed in the same linguistic pattern or rhyme.
It will require the use of word groups instead of individual words.
For instance, one lesson could focus on exploring the “-ate” word family. You then present them with its examples: “mate,” “date,” “rate,” and “late.”
Finally, there’s embedded phonics. It is not really an approach of its own, but it is the phonics-related part of the whole language program.
The perspective used in this strategy is quite different from the other three.
A Basic Guide to Teaching Phonics
Here, we will not be focusing on embedded phonics, nor the other types, but synthetic phonics.
After all, it is the most widely preferred by educators worldwide.
The synthetic approach is the main template used for the basic guide below.
Step 1: Decoding
The first step you can take when teaching phonics is to help children decode graphemes with their respective phonemes.
We recommend teaching your child letter and sound recognition.
While many teachers and parents tend to teach vowels first, followed by consonants, some focus on high-frequency sounds first, such as a, s, t, and p.
The charm of mixing both vowels and consonants at the start of the journey is that it gives your child a collection of words to read and even form a story.
Step 2: Blending
This step refers to teaching the child how to put these phonemes together to form the words.
Here’s a tip for readers struggling to grasp how to blend: Let the child pronounce each phoneme individually.
Then, ask him to do it repeatedly, a little bit faster each time, until he does it fast enough that the individual sounds won’t seem segmented anymore.
The goal is to stop only when the combined phonemes sound like a single word.
The child just needs to figure out how to do this, and he’d already be able to read.
Step 3: Learning CVC Words
Your child can practice reading with CVC words first.
These are words that follow a consonant-vowel-consonant pattern.
Some examples are dog, cat, bus, can, ran, and rug.
Step 4: Learning CCVC and CVCC Words or Consonant Clusters
Once the child has mastered CVC words, you can then move on to CCVC and CVCC.
These are words that follow a consonant-consonant-vowel-consonant or consonant-vowel-consonant-consonant pattern, respectively.
Some examples of CCVC are trap, slab, and plot. On the other hand, some examples of CVCC are mark, fast, and silk.
Step 5: Learning Digraphs
While you’re learning the basics of letter clusters, you can also choose to teach digraphs. These are letter combinations that make up a single sound.
There are two types of digraphs: vowels and consonants.
Some examples of vowel digraphs are /oi/, /oo/, and /oa/. Examples of consonant digraphs are /ch/ and /sh/.
Step 6: Putting Everything Together
The only thing left to do now is to let the child practice everything he has learned.
Doing so will gradually increase his reading level to build vocabulary and improve reading comprehension.
Children Learning Reading
We understand that the six steps we just shared are easier said than done, especially if you have no teaching experience at all.
For this reason, we recommend checking out the Children Learning Reading program, too.
This program is focused on the use of phonemes and is formulated using extensive research and experimentation.
It also offers numerous examples of phonics.
The results are so impressive that some of the past participants learned to read as young as two years of age.
It also explains the downside of the whole language approach in teaching reading, more specifically, the use of sight words.
You’ll find a more detailed teacher’s guide for you to follow, fleshing out most of the steps we presented for easier reference and application.
There are other reading programs out there, but Children Learning Reading remains to be our personal favorite.
They say that every journey starts with a single step. For reading, that step is learning how to read phonic words.
So, what is phonics? This teaching method utilizes phonemes and graphemes to decipher simple words constructed in a basic pattern.
There are three common examples of phonics: CVC, CCVC, and CVCC. These words are then intended to be read using the phonics method.
It is an approach to reading that requires the recognition of sounds, letters, and letter clusters and then blending them to form words.
Get your child started on reading by following the quick guide we shared earlier.
Or, better yet, you can sign up for a reading program, like Children Learning Reading, for more structure and direction.