Monday, January 09, 2012

My phonics adventure part two

Last year, I began my phonics adventure as a parent by learning Jolly Phonics. That opened my eyes to the world of phonics, and I began to introduce letter sounds to EV. Gladly, she recognised some simple ones after some time, such as s, a, t, n and so on. And she was starting to recognise the letters too, for I always teach her the letters themselves and the formation, using the Jolly Phonics Finger Book. However, I was unsure about how I can teach and focus more on the alphabets A to Z, rather than just on the letter sounds that do not follow any alphabet order, and already starts teaching sounds like ai, ee etc by the fourth group of sounds (Jolly Phonics is based on 42 sounds, broken up into 7 groups of 6 sounds each).

Was there a way to combine what I had learnt about these 42 sounds, which included consonants and digraphs, while teaching her the 26 alphabets and their sounds systematically, like in a home lesson?

Then I found out about a phonics course that a SAHM was conducting and thought this could be what I was looking for. I attended Jann's first course for 2012, and from the first lesson, I found it very useful, with its lesson plans, craft materials and song suggestions to make home teaching fun. It helped that I had previously been exposed to phonics and letter sounds myself, as I could easily understand what Jann was explaining. The basic concept was similar with Jolly Phonics, and I guess with most other phonics methods out there. Phonics should be used as a teaching method to help a child recognise not only the letters and sounds, but to learn to break and blend the individual sounds up, so that eventually, the goal is to help the child read, write and spell.

What Jann's course has done is to simplify phonics concepts so that it is easy for parents to teach at home, complete with guidelines that allow parents to start immediately. Jann also shared that for a child around EV's age, focus should be on enhancing letter and sound recognition to raise the child's phonemic awareness. At this age, it is also possible to help the child do memory spelling and some simple writing. Only later, when the child is three or four, should the focus move to a combination of memory and phonics spelling, where the child can be prompted to spell simple words by letter sounds. Children of this age should also be able to write all 26 alphabets.

I agree with Jann that a conducive, fun and relaxed environment at home is extremely important and will go a long way in EV's learning development. Jann also shared her personal experiences in teaching her kids, as well as ideas on how to make the learning process more interesting. In future lessons, she will be sharing more on other aspects such as reading, writing and learning through play. I have definitely found this to be useful so far, and plan to start the lessons with EV soon. I hope that she will be as enthusiastic about it as me.

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