How to teach phonics
There are many different scenarios where phonics is taught. There is teaching phonics to preschoolers and kindergarten where it is really more of a pre reading exercise as most schools in the United States officially teach phonics in first grade. There are phonics teaching strategies that can be used with preschool and kindergarten without having to do a full blown phonics and reading curriculum. There are esl students that learn phonics and believe it or not there are adults who never learned to read here in America and there are very probably different ways how to teach phonics to adults that I am not going to cover here. Those teachers who teach adults to read may use the same methods as teaching phonics to preschoolers but, as I have no experience with that I will not address it.
There are many books, programs and games that will help you in a structured way some a little bit different from others on how to teach phonics. I am going to give you some lesson plans that you can use to begin and you can fill in with any number of the well known programs that are out there. I am also a big believer that teaching children to read does not only include phonics. There should be lots of reading readiness, sight words games. language activities for preschoolers and of course learning the alphabet in conjunction with learning phonics.
Phonics programs need to be easy to follow and very appealing to the children. Direct interaction is a must so even if you are using one of those online, or non personal programs then you need to be directly involved. At the same time that you are teaching phonics you should also be immersing the children in great literature. If all they learn to do is decode than the children may end up with reading comprehension issue. The more reading they are exposed to while you are teaching the phonics, the more relevance it will have.
Strategies for teaching phonics
There are a couple of basic points before we dive into the step by step of teaching phonics. Before the actual formal teaching of phonics the children should already be getting lots of exposure to connecting sound with letters. We don’t start teaching the name of the letters first and when we introduce the letters with the sounds we always introduce the lower case first. You should not introduce the capital letters until they know the lower case very well. When doing vowels we also teach short vowels before the long vowels and be very wary of worksheets that ask kids to recognize long vowels before the short ones.
A good way to learn the vowels is by turning them into characters like the great resource called Zoo-Phonics Language Arts Resource Manual: Using the Wild to Teach the Childor theVowel Readers (Letterland Readers)
When you are teaching letter names which for the most part lots of children just learn from Sesame Street, the best capitals to start with is to teach the ones that look the most like their lower case partners.
Teaching phonics to preschoolers
It is extremely important when you are teaching phonics to preschoolers or kindergarten age children whether they are in a school setting or a home setting 2 parts of reading readiness skills are vital. Though there are many as I discuss in my post on reading readiness, auditory discrimination and visual discrimination must be dealt with in a very thorough manner. With visual discrimination the children must get proficient at spotting differences and you need to play lots of games to train the children with this. You can use worksheets to supplement the games but, don’t rely only on worksheets.
In preschool and kindergarten there is not the same pressure to get children through a certain amount of books and workbooks so you can have the luxury of spending more time on these skills. Auditory discrimination is the second skills that must be worked on. The children not only have to hear the initial consonant sound but, they must hear sounds indie words and they must be able to blend two letters. You can play games with the kids like have them listen to words and see which are the same. you can do it with initial consonants and with blends.
There are many board games that help with blending as there are flashcards and workbooks as well. A combination of all three is best. Then there ar blends on the ends like mp, ng and ct. there are 4 special sounds that they will have to listen for as well, These 4 sounds are ch,sh,ph and th (don’t bother with wh at this point)
As a teacher teaching children phonics you must speak and articulate clearly. A child can 60 to be 6D and you must make sure that they are hearing clearly what you are saying.
If the child has a mild speech impediment that shouldn’t really impede his reading but a critical age for a lisp is 7 and you should be taking him or her for speech therapy as soon as you can.
Teaching phonics lesson plans
I can’t really give you a years worth of lesson plans here to teach phonics but, what I can give you is the basic order that phonics is usually taught along with some rules. you will have to use many materials to supplement this post and cannot expect as I’m sure you don’t to get a complete set of lesson plan in one post on how to teach phonics.I am not going to include in the steps, the pre reading and reading activities that have to do with immersion in reading and literature or about the reading readiness skills that you have to work on.
- Start with initial consonant sounds-Every letter has a sound and let’s find objects that start with this sound and show them with letter it is that makes that sound.
- Letter blends-sometimes there are two letters at the beginning of a word and lets find objects and words that have blends at the beginning.
- The four special blends-ch,sh,ph,th
- Word families- there are words that are all the same except for the first or first two letters. Begin with the at family. They will see when they add a c, p f or other letters to the family the word changes.
- Begin vowels with the short e, i and o words. Olive, ostrich, add, if, exit,ebay etc
- You can then merge words and can use flashcards to build the works.
- The short u. They must know the other vowels very well before learning u-sub, bun,cut
- Sight words- There are some words that defy logic and cannot be sounded out. These are sight words that the children will have to memorize. There are loads of games that help them with this. A particularity good one is called Easy Sight Words Set 2, PreK-2 (Phonics Flash Cards)
- Begin the children on early reading books called starting to read books. There are many of these. Below are links to a number of the well known series. when you use some of those books to practice reading with your children then they will sequentially be taking them through all of the sounds they need to learn in the correct order.
Two fun phonics rules
There are two fun and easy rules in phonics that are often used to make some difficult concepts easy. the first one is called the bossy e rule. this rule is for long vowel sounds. The bossy e sits on the end of words and makes the earlier vowel say its long sound. The e makes no sound at all its just silent bully. One example would be fame or tile.
The second rule is when 2 vowels go walking the first one does the talking. Examples of these are jail, creeek and boat.
The y: The y is a tricky letter and they need to know that if comes at the beginning of the workd then its a straightforward sound like yams. but if its in the middle or the end, it gets trickier.
There are also endings, suffixes, and silent letters and syllables and as we spoke many word families to practice with.
Just remember than reading is more than phonics and sounding out words. It is a combination of the whole bunch of activities I talked about in the beginning of this post. If you do them all together and have lots of patience then your children will be sure to be successful readers.