Early Years Phonics, advice for parents.
I wrote this blog post on our old PreSchool blog (now replaced with a FB page) for parents who were anxious about phonic development, not realising they were probably doing all the right things to build the foundations for learning phonics.
“Children start learning phonics really early. You may not realise how much they are taking in and you probably don’t know some of the basic skills you are already building by playing with your child. The clue to successful phonics is have fun, and don’t be pressured!
Listening is key to phonic awareness. Learning about different sounds. So when you’re out and about listen to different sounds. Are they quiet or noisy? Be sure to take time to keep quiet while you listen. Sounds obvious but it’s very easy in your enthusiasm to talk over sounds.
Having said that talking and listening to your child is very important to build confidence with words, demonstrate listening and enjoy conversation. Most children are very chatty at this age! Listening to what they have to say will also boost their self esteem.
Let me teach you a new phrase. ‘Beat Competency’ is being able to say or clap a simple rhythm. Nursery rhymes are great for beat competency. They’re fun and easy to join in with. Having beat competency is hugely helpful to future reading and writing, so make time for rhymes and songs. Its a proven fact that children who regularly sing or say rhymes do better with reading and writing when they go to school. This particularly shows when they get to juniors. See Sparkles songs on the blog and get singing!
Play with words that have the same sound at the beginning, eg. silly sausages, smelly socks, bonkas bananas, croaky caterpillar and any other words that have the same initial sound. Also rhyming phrases such as ‘the parrot ate a carrot’ ‘the snake ate a cake’ have fun making up silly rhymes.
Many children’s books follow these ideas. ‘Shark in the Park’ follows a rhyme the whole way through. ‘We’re Going on a bear Hunt’ helps with alliteration, rhymes and sounds. They are both fun to join in with. “The Naughty Bus” is one of my favourites showing fonts that reflected what is written.
Books are very important for future reading and writing skills. Having fun with familiar books is just as important as finding new ones. Favourite books are great for learning story content and structure and by reading regularly to your child you are having a very valuable time together enjoying literacy.
All the above suggestions are building the foundations of reading skills and research tells us the more time we spend building these foundations the more successful your child will be with literacy skills. So don’t feel pressured to push them onto letter sounds or writing letters. Enjoy the early stages of initiating enjoyment of words, rhymes and books.
Learning letter sounds will be a natural progression from this. When yo get there remember to use the letter sound, not its name. This will help your child build words later on. I don’t want to go into this too much as this is a skill for school age, but learning the sound a letter makes before learning its name. For example c-a-t, put these three sounds together to make the word cat. However the names of these letters ‘cee’ ‘aye’ ‘tee’ don’t sound like the word. I hope you get what I mean. Please ask if you don’t
As you see, children are learning about phonics constantly. The main points I would stress for early years is sing and say lots of rhymes on and off during the day. Read to your child every day, old favourites as well as new ones. spend time talking and listening. Do these and the rest will follow!”