Many parents may have heard that the Ministry of Education would conduct the test of “phonics” in schools this year. However, a lot of parents are still confused about the real concept of “phonics”

A person knows how to read when he or she uses all basic involved skills. When they read, they often tend to predict following words. That’s why you find it’s hard to review the text written by yourself because you usually read words you think first, not the exact words you wrote. A proof for this phenomenon is the way children read stories they used to know or text with the familiar content. At this time, kids will “read” a version of their own stories by looking at pictures and reporting what they used to hear though it’s not really “reading” as the mere meaning but it composes of natural skill of each child.

Children’s books with pictures gradually create a familiar world view, for example, when they look at pictures of the beach, they will guess that words such as “sand” and “sea” will appear in the lesson. In addition, they can position the world through shapes they can feel. For instance, although they don’t know letters and words, they know “sand” and “sea” written in different ways. “Guessing” and “recognizing”, “right” and “wrong” words is also shown in case you are not sure about the spelling of a word, and you write down some spelling version of that word to confirm what is correct.

Description: Description: Focus on Phonics

However, to read and write in the right spelling, we need the knowledge and skill about “phonics”. It should be noted that when you are so familiar with something, it’s hard for you to teach to others about it, as you know how to ride a bicycle and do it like “errands” but teaching it for a kid who drive the bike at the first time is more difficult than ever. Similar to pronounce, even though you are good at reading and skills, it’s not sure that you can identify and teach your children those things.

Please notice that “phonics” is relate to “reading” but “pronouncing” is in relation with “getting it loud”. For those who are proficient in reading, two concepts may be the same but to do it basically, you need to know this difference. We might not know about “phonics” but most children can learn it easily because they are taught skills of “reading comprehension” and those who only learn about reading by rote will be in trouble with “comprehension” and “pronunciation”.

When reading, you will often see the word “cat”, you look at letters “c”, “a”, “t”, you link sounds of those letters together (it is called “read connection” in phonics) and you will read the word “cat”. It’s similar with “splat”, “crumpet”, “splendid” and “criminal”, each character has its own syllable and when you read them in connection, you can read them perfectly. In contrast, when we pronounce by spelling, we will separate each sound of the letter (in phonics it is called “sound split”, in which each character has a particular sound and this way is usually used when children begin to learn words.

Nevertheless, there are many complex words in which a syllable consists of a few letters. For example, both “slop” and “shop” has four characters but “slop” has four syllables (s-l-o-p) whereas “shop” has only three (sh-o-p), because the sound “s” and “h” are mixed together into “sh” sound. Similarly, “glow” has four letters and three syllables as “o” and “w” become “ow”. It should be noticed that to pronounce correctly, you need to consider the context and the traditional way of pronunciation.

Sometimes, some different letters are put together and they make the same harmony, for example words followed by different characters have the same way of reading: “school” “shoe” “through” “threw” “cruise”.

The good news is that though there are many longer words including complicated and irregular ones, the general rule is “sound split” and “read connection”. There may be some irregular words but many studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of application “phonics” for “comprehension” in schools, and that’s why the government encourages parents to concentrate on this subject for their kids.

There are some simple ways for parents to help their children get used to practicing “phonics”:

-       Pay much attention to “sounds” than single letters: So far we have had the habit of teaching children to read parrot-fashion but now, let kids play small games such as asking them about characters which “help” “black” “ink” “fish” “tesco” may have. Don’t worry whether they can list characters or not but focus on helping them recognize “syllables”. Obviously, many parents will feel hard at first but try to learn with kids. One of the most useful methods is ignoring the meaning of words. You can even allow your children to make nonsense words such as “flob” “stenip” “crindestinderban” as their creativity.

Once children get used to hearing “sounds”, the process “pronunciation” and “comprehension” will be easier. Let them see the relationship between the common pronunciation and sound separation of each character, then let us write down sounds they hear. When you read a book for them, sometimes emphasize some words with difficult syllables but don’t distract the story with too much explanation.

-       Encourage children to trial and error: They will make many mistakes when they start to learn how to read. “Boat” is written as “boat” but when they apply phonics, they are easy to write “b-o-w-t” or “b-o-t-e”. Don’t be angry, just maintain the relax atmosphere. There will be a large number of children who are in trouble with reading due to different reasons, but phonics is still the useful beginner method to help them master the reading skill in the future.

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