What is Phonics & How Can You Practice Phonics With Your Child at Home?

Hello, our dear parents! This short article by our teacher Laura will share some fundamental concepts of phonics, including aims, and then continue to talk about easy activities you can try with your children at home. Let’s dive right in!

What is phonics?

The Synthetic Phonetic approach is a method of teaching people how to read. This approach starts with single letters and the sounds that the letters represent.

Every child will be taught how sounds are represented by letters. For example, the letter ‘n’ represents an nnn sound, similar but still unique to its name ‘N’. ‘a’ represents a sound very different to its name. If we read these words we can hear that a represents an a sound like in sat, cat, lap.

Alongside this, children will also learn that sounds can be blended together. The sounds of the letters ‘p-a-n’ blend together to make the word ‘pan’.

It has been shown that children that learn to read with synthetic phonics can radically improve their reading and spelling capabilities. This is found in both children who learn English as their first and second language (Stuart, 1999) (Hus, 2001).

How can we implement synthetic phonics at home?

When teaching phonics it is important to help students learn how to listen and recognise the sound, say the sound, read the sound, and blend the sound with others. Here are some activities that can be done in the classroom and at home which can support children with these goals.

Aim 1: To learn the letter sounds

I love listening to the Jolly Phonics sound songs on YouTube! They are a great first step for students who can learn the short song and the movement that goes with it! Making learning physical is great for spatial learners!

Typing ‘p’ phonics into YouTube or Youku will result in hundreds of interesting songs for children to listen to and enjoy.

Click here for a Jolly Phonics playlist on Youku.                

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLU9jU6nvBU

Aim 2: To learn to recognise the sound

This is when we can have some fun! After learning the sound ‘p’ it’s time to write it.

Ask your child to think of some words with ‘p’ in them. Or, look in a dictionary. I’ve thought of potato, paint, pen, porridge…

Now we can clean our table and start writing. Perhaps start by writing a ‘p’ using a purple pen. Then, you can put potato peelings on top of our ‘p’! Perhaps some porridge oats too? All while saying the ‘p’ sound aloud. This will help students to learn the ‘p’ sound properly and will help them to move away from just guessing what it sounds like later on.

Playing eye spy around the house is also a great way to get kids thinking!

Aim 3: Learn how to blend the sounds

After children have learned the sounds ‘s’, ‘a’, ‘t’, ‘p’, and ‘n’ (known as SATPIN) they will be in a great position to try blending some words together.

At home, you can create cards with the letters s,a,t,p,i, and n from old bits of paper. Then you can try making some words.

Tip: I like to count the sounds on my fingers separately and then put my fingers together when blending them.

The letters SATPIN can create the words nap, nan, pan, tan, in, as, at, it, is, sap, pip, pin, and tin.

With your cards, children can place the sounds in different places and try to blend the sounds together.

Tip: Try to remember not to call the letters by their names as that can cause confusion.

Aim 4: To be able to break apart a word and identify the sounds

This can first be taught through the use of our work cards. After putting the n-a-p letter cards together, we can break them apart and have the student sound out the individual letters.

I love the game Fishy Phonics by Phonics Bloom. It’s a fun way for children to learn how to write different words after both looking and listening to them.

To conclude

Learning to read with the synthetic phonics approach will take time. However, the benefits of the method and the confidence that children can gain in both reading and spelling are brilliant to see in the classroom and at home. If a child does struggle it may be a sign to go back and look at the four skills again to assess where more work can be done.

I can’t wait to share some more fun activities that I use and some tips to help children who are looking to improve their phonetic ability. If you have any tips that you’d like to share or any questions for me to answer please comment below!

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