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  • Writer's pictureChloe Lister

Why Do We Emphasize on Importance of Phonics?

What Is Phonics?

Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write. It's a reading and spelling tool for teaching the basic relationship between letters and the sounds that they make.

There are only 26 letters in the alphabet, but did you know those 26 letters actually make over 40 different individual units of sound, and these basic sound units are called phonemes?

Understanding phonics will also help children know which letters to use when they are writing words. Written language can be compared to a code, so knowing the sounds of individual letters and how those letters sound when they’re combined will help children decode words as they read.

6 Steps to learning phonics:

Step 1 – Letter Sounds

Children should start by seeing a letter and then saying the sound it represents. Children are often taught the letters S,A,T,P,I,N first, so that they can sound out a wide variety of words, for example: sat, pin, tap. Children should also learn how to form those letters.

Step 2 – Blending and Segmenting

Blending is the process of pushing sounds together to create words. When segmenting is the ability to separate sounds in words. Children are taught how to blend and segment individual sounds together to say a whole word. First, they will start with CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) words such as sit, pan, tap, before moving on to CCVC/CVCC words (e.g. stop, milk).

Step 3 – Digraphs

Once children have learnt individual letter sounds, they will start learning to read and write digraphs. A digraph is a two-letter combination that represents a single phoneme sound. There are consonant digraphs (e.g. ch, sh) and vowel digraphs (e.g. ea, oo, ai). Next, children will then move on to sounding out whole words which include those digraphs such as moon, hear, rain etc.

Step 4 – Common sighted words

Alongside phonics, children should be introduced to common sighted words. Common sighted words are words that children should recognise instantly, as these words appear often in books. Common sighted words don’t follow the normal phonics rules (e.g he, she, was, they, all). Recognising words by sight increases children’s comprehension skills by making them faster and more fluent readers.

An example of common sighted words per year level:

Pre-Primary: be, but, do, have, he, she, they, was, what

Primary 1: after, again, could, from, had, her, his, of, then

Primary 2: around, because, been, before, does, don’t

Primary 3: better, carry, eight, laugh, light, myself, only

Primary 4: complete, measure, notice, questions, usually

Primary 5: equation, language, machine, minutes, produce

Step 5 – Graphemes

Next, children will start learning graphemes. A grapheme is a letter or a number of letters that represent a phoneme sound in a word. The children will learn that one sound can be represented by different graphemes. For example, the ‘ai’ sound (rain) can be represented as ‘ay’ (day).

Step 6 – Fluency and Accuracy

At this stage, children should be able to read many familiar words and phonetically sound out unfamiliar words. Children now will begin to learn more complex spelling rules such as silent letters and suffixes. In addition, they should practise reading on a daily basis to develop speed, fluency and comprehension.

Want some fun phonic art activity ideas? Read an article about phonic art and fine motor skills

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