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Thursday, April 11, 2019

Fun With Phonics

Phonics can be confusing for parents who didn’t learn to read and write English that way, and many parents are uncertain how best to help their children, but rest assured there is a lot you can do. 

Believe it or not, there really is a system linking English spelling and pronunciation together and phonics teaches children that system. Rather than teaching them letter names, phonics teaches them the different sounds that individual letters and groups of letters make when they’re written down so that children can blend the units of sound together to read whole words. This is a tried and tested method. By the end of primary school, children who learn to read with phonics can attain a reading age 3.5 years ahead of those who do not. 

The Best Way To Help Your Children Is To Learn With Them

Phonics may seem a bit overwhelming to you at first but the best way to help your children is to learn with them. Check which sounds they’ve been learning in class and start by watching some phonics videos online with them. This will refresh their memories and show you what and how they’ve been taught. The Alphablocks is an excellent BBC series of phonics videos available on YouTube as is Geraldine the Giraffe – a series made by a British school teacher. 

Help Your Child Practice Using Their New Phonics Knowledge

After watching a video, set your child a task to help them practice using their new phonics knowledge. First, they need to practise saying the sound and identifying words that contain it. So you could send them on a treasure hunt where they have to find things around the house that begin with or contain the correct sound. For example, if they’re practicing /p/ as in paper you can ask them to find five things that begin with the same /p/ sound. As they collect items, encourage them to say what they are to check if they begin with the correct sound. You could also ask them to draw five things that begin with the sound or to make five models out of Playdoh of things that begin with the sound.

After saying the sound, children need to practice writing it

After saying the sound, children need to practice writing it and at this stage it’s important to refer to the written form as a letter shape rather than using its letter name which can be confusing. So, you might say something like “Can you write the /p/ letter shape?” while making the /p/ sound - as in the beginning of the word paper.

A variety of arts and crafts activities can make this stage fun and stimulating. For example, you can use a glue stick and some dry rice or glitter and ask your child to write the letter shape with the glue stick then sprinkle on the rice/glitter to reveal it. You can ask your child to make the letter shape with Playdoh or you can fill a tray with shaving foam and ask them to write the letter shape using their fingers. Equally, you may want to make letter shapes that you can keep so that you can help your child to practice reading simple words when they reach that stage in their phonics journey.

Download some phonics apps onto your smartphone

If your child enjoys technology, you could download some phonics apps onto your smartphone. Both Jolly Phonics (the British state school standard phonics system) and the Alphablocks available both for iOS and for Android devices have fun and well-designed phonics apps. If you are not familiar with the letter sounds yourself then these apps can help you to learn phonics skills as well, so you can support your children.

So, learn with your children, get creative and try to choose practice activities that your child will enjoy. Good luck!

These tips were brought to you by British Council Malaysia. British Council Malaysia provides Phonics courses at the KL and The Curve branches. Further course details can be found at https://www.britishcouncil.my/english/courses-children/phonics

To learn about our courses for children aged 5 – 17, visit British Council at 

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