Sound It Out: How to teach phonics at home
Phonics is currently taught in primary schools across England to improve young children’s speech and reading skills. Unlike traditional methods of memorising hundreds of words, it teaches youngsters that letters have a name, make certain sounds and how to blend those sounds together to make words. Grasping the fundamentals of phonics can seem confusing at first (don’t worry, we’ve shared some useful learning links at the bottom of our post for anyone new to the approach or a bit rusty) however, one of the simplest ways us parents can help our youngsters is to simply show enthusiasm and support. Looking for some inspiration? We’ve rounded up some of our tried and tested tips on how you and your child can master phonics together at home and have a bit of fun too!
A great way to engage young ones at home with phonics is to play games. There’s plenty of DIY ideas you can try. One of our favourites is writing out the phonics codes in chalk in the garden or at the park. Then, throw a ring onto one of the letters/combinations and practise the letter sound it lands on.
For younger children, why not try a sensory box? Fill it with dry pasta and colourful shredded paper, then bury some magnet fridge letters inside which your little one can then fish out.
For on the go there’s a variety of Phonics focused Apps available to download. Our boys particularly like the Teaching Your Monster To Read games, which can buy from iTunes.
Flashcards & Workbooks
Flashcards and workbooks are useful prompts for making sure you’ve covered all the fundamentals of phonics. Switching between the two can help keep it interesting and will give your child a real sense of achievement once they’ve mastered the cards or completed another workbook level. Things like colourful pens and using stickers when a page is complete will help make them a little more exciting too!
Unsurprisingly, reading is one of the best ways you can help your child improve their understanding of words, the rhythm of language and sounds. Choose books with simple illustrations and large bold print so that your child can focus on the words and point to them as you read. Rhyming books are excellent, as they help children notice the sounds within words and encourages them to make predictions which is another important language skill. There are many phonics early reader books you can buy that have been written purposefully to sound out the words in each learning stage - we recommend the stories from The Oxford Reading Tree series.
When in doubt, turn to music! Songs promote phonetic awareness and stimulate young children’s imagination, memory and understanding skills. Playing singalong songs in the car on the school run or tuning into Alphablocks on CBeebies are all simple ways to incorporate fun learning into your daily routine.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Like anything, the more your child practises the better they’ll get! You can practise phonics anywhere, for example, pointing out the ‘p’ in a bag of ‘pasta’ at the supermarket or sitting on a ‘b-e-n-ch’ at the park. It can also be helpful to know what Phonic scheme your child’s school is following so you can be sure you’re practising the same letter sounds at home to what they're learning at school.
Phonics might take some commitment, but with plenty of support, encouragement, cuddles and praise, your child will learn even faster and soon be reading that bedtime book to you all by themselves!
Some useful resources:
Do you have any tips for teaching phonics? Let us know your favourite resources in a comment below!
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