Phonics is a token phrase that gets thrown around a lot in terms of education and language development. What exactly is phonics, and why are these skills so important for your child?
Phonics Skills Your Child Should Have
Phonics is a way of teaching children to read by connecting sounds with letters or groups of letters. Some foundational early phonics skills include:
Recognizing letters by name and sound
Recognizing short and long vowels
Blending sounds together to form a word
Understanding unique letter pairings and the sounds they make (“tion” sounds like “shun,” for example)
Sounding out words
These are just some basic major milestones, as there are many components to phonics instruction that your child will learn.
Signs that Your Child Has Poor Phonics Skills
Just because your child can read or write does not necessarily mean they have good phonics skills. They may have learned by trial and error instead of by developing the skills to decode words. You may suspect your child has not mastered phonics skills if they are starting to fall behind and struggle with reading and writing.
In addition to your own instinct as a parent, one of the best ways to know if your child does not have good phonics skills is by talking to his/her teacher. Hopefully, your child’s teacher has been monitoring your child’s phonics skills and will be able to give you insight into where your child is at with their skills.
The Importance of Phonics Skills
Trial and error may have worked for your child at first, but it will make reading and writing increasingly difficult if that continues to be their strategy. By having the skill of understanding how words are formed, your child will be able to decode and understand new words on their own.
Without solid phonics skills, your child will struggle every time he or she encounters a new word. Your child will likely quickly start to fall behind their peers. Mastering the understanding of how words form is imperative for continued language development.
How to Help Your Child With Phonics
As soon as you realize your child is struggling with phonics, provide as much supplemental learning materials for them as you can. Your child’s teacher will be a great resource to help you find out which materials will be best for your child and his or her struggles. Before you get a chance to talk to your child’s teacher, a great place to start is reading with your child as often as possible. Help him/her sound out words and talk about the letters and the sounds they make.
Take advantage of technology as well. There are so many educational apps that help develop your child’s phonics skills. One of the many benefits of apps is that they grow with your child as their skills get stronger
Math Genie’s Early Childhood Reading and Writing Program is also specifically designed to help your child develop important reading and writing skills, including phonics. The sooner you start helping your child develop his/her skills, the easier it will be to catch back up and be at or above grade level.