Reading and Phonics
Reading and Phonics
We appreciate that many Parents/ Carers can feel a little unsure when supporting their child to develop their reading and phonic skills at home. Unfamiliar terminology may make you a little apprehensive and the notion of doing something 'wrong' may fill you with dread but please... don't panic!
Read on to find a step-by-step guide, designed to help you get to grips with the wonderful world of phonics, plus useful tips and ideas in how you can make a real difference at home and help us create a class of confident, inquisitive and independent young readers!
Phonics (the basics)
What is 'phonics'?
Phonics is simply the teaching and learning of letter sounds (known as phonemes) as an aid to support reading and writing.
Children learn to hear and say the different sounds (phonemes) and match them to the written letters (known as graphemes).
As we teach each sound it is important we use what we call 'pure' sounds. Although the term may seem complex it is fairly straight forward. Basically, don't add 'uh' to the end of the sound as you say it, for example...
's' makes the long sound 'ssssss' as if a snake was hissing rather than a short sound 'suh'.
Each week, from our class page, I will let you know the new sounds we have been learning in school, along with how to create the 'pure' sounds but... if you are keen to get ahead click on the links below. In school we use the actions from the 'Jolly Phonics' scheme when teaching each sound. The actions help to reinforce the 'pure' sounds needed.
Digraphs and Trigraphs:
In the alphabet there are 26 letters and therefore 26 single letter sounds. We can make new letter sounds by grouping certain letters together...
'Digraphs' are made of 2 letters such as 'ch', 'th', 'sh', 'ee', 'oo'.
'Trigraphs' are made of 3 letters such as 'igh', 'ear', 'ure'.
Once we become familiar with the letter sounds and the written letter forms we can begin to use our phonic knowledge to help us to read and write!
In the example above the child would read each sound in turn..."c" "a" "t" and blend them to hear, then say, the word "cat".
Just a note: Blending takes time and practice. Children may find the skill of 'blending' the sounds together to hear the word quite tricky, especially if they leave long gaps between the different sounds as they say them. You can support them in this by modelling how to say the sounds closer together so that the sounds literally 'blend' into each other. This makes it much easier for the ear to hear the word.
'Tricky' words are words that do not follow the rules of phonics! They cannot be read by 'blending' the sounds together or written by 'segmenting' the sounds heard. Instead we learn to read these words as a 'whole' and by sight.
'go', 'the', 'was', 'have', are all examples of 'tricky' words
In our phonic sessions we play games with these words to help us recognise them so that we can spot them in our reading books.
The tricky words your child is currently learning will be sent home on a bookmark attached to their reading log book. You can support them to learn these words at home with a variety of games such as a tricky word hunt in the garden, turning them into a game of 'snap' or 'pairs', tricky word bingo, making targets with tricky words on them and squirting them with a water pistol etc..etc.. The internet is a great source of inventive and fun ideas to make learning these words fun!
Phonics certainly has a role to play when learning to read. The reading books your child brings home have a simple and often repetitive text to enable your child to gain some independence in their reading from very early on. As they become confident in recognising the letter sounds they will be able to use their blending skills to read the words and spot the tricky words too. Of course it will take time before they are ready to 'go it alone' so in those early weeks they will be relying on you to model how to read. They can repeat the sentence after you, help you blend words together, watch you point to each word as you go and be on the look out for those tricky words. As their confidence grows they will be more willing to take greater ownership of the reading. As always practice makes perfect!
Although these books serve a valuable purpose in developing confidence and independence in the early stages of learning to read they do have limitations.
Shared Books and Book Talk:
"Real books" enable children to engage with a greater variety of characters and be exposed to more complex vocabulary and story lines. These books also offer opportunities to develop further reading skills...
"Book Talk" such as this promotes communication and thinking skills, leading to better understanding.
And don't forget about non-fiction books!
Books without words:
It may have already happened...your child has brought home a reading book, you open it up and the cry of "there's no words!" is heard. However, these books are great for language development and they can promote story telling skills!
Story telling is a great skill! It improves imagination, there are no restrictions on the use of language and vocabulary (so instead of introducing the 'big' bad wolf, it could be the 'gigantic' bad wolf, or the 'massive' bad wolf, or even the 'colossal' bad wolf!), when story telling is shared it can promote turn taking and listening skills. Story telling also supports sequencing and ordering skills...plus it's fun!
Why not make a story telling bag from an old pillowcase? Fill it with puppets/ objects and get story telling. Will it be a funny story? A story to make us shudder or an adventure story with a brave superhero? The only limit is your imagination.
Lead by example. If children see you reading for enjoyment they will too.
Remember... reading can happen anywhere... when you are out and about read signs, posters, shopping lists, cafe menus etc..
Take time every day to enjoy a good book. Find a quiet, cosy spot free from distractions and become lost in an imaginary world!
Don't become frustrated if your child is reluctant to read at times. They may be tired. Rather than battle with their reading book play a fun game that supports the same reading skills. I will add new games to the link on the right hand menu as the terms progress.
Whatever you manage to do at home to continue the reading journey it is certainly valued and I would like to say a huge "Thank you!" for your support. If you have any questions/ queries in helping your child learn to read do please let me know.