The Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival hosted by Science@home is for anyone, because we are all teachers and learners all the time. This month our theme is "English", including Speaking, Listening, Reading and Viewing. I think our bloggers have covered all of these and there are lots of resources and game ideas, plus a giveaway. Please read through to the end to find links to the other participating blogs.
My eldest son, who is 4 years old, is beginning to read and write independently. It is with some trepidation that I think about helping him with these skills. I’ve never helped anyone learn to read or write before. It seems so important and perhaps just a bit harder than helping someone learn to walk or talk, which I suppose I have done before.
So, I’ve been wondering what can I do to help my son with his developing reading and writing skills. And from there, phonics rears its head.
What is phonics?
Phonics is the ability to translate the print on the page into sound: for example, seeing the word cat on the page and saying cat; or being able to break it up into sounds and saying: kuh-a-tuh.
From Reading Magic, by Mem Fox
The trouble is, I dislike phonics. I love to read, enjoy writing and I’m a great speller, but when I try and figure out the sounds in a word I get confused.
As a child, I can’t remember knowing or needing phonics. I can remember wanting to be able to read the words in books. As an adult, I find phonics boring and requiring a great deal of concentration from me to get right. So, do I need to teach my child phonics?
The role of phonics in learning to read and write
Phonics is one strategy that people can use when they come across an unfamiliar word while reading or need to spell an unfamiliar word when writing. Phonics is useful but not essential in learning to read.
Reading is making meaning from the from the marks on the page. Sounding out words is not necessarily reading because it is quite possible to read with all the correct phonics in place but not understand what is written on the page. Phonics needs to be used along with a person’s prior knowledge and the context in which a word is used.
Many children will learn about phonics through reading and writing. Some children will need more explicit instruction in letter-sound relationships.
Given this information about the role of phonics in reading and writing and my dislike of phonics (which I’m sure my son will pick up) I will choose to focus at home on making sure my son loves reading and wants to read. If phonics instruction is needed I will leave it to trained teachers. I don’t have the knowledge on how to use phonics in reading instruction or the motivation to learn to take on this role.
What can I do at home to help my child with beginning reading?
- read together everyday
- interact with books, talking about the pictures and the words on the page
- pointing out words in the environment as we go through the day
- play with words – tongue twisters, jokes, rhymes
- play alphabet games
- encourage my child to write - lists, letters, stories or whatever he wants
If you’d like to read more about phonics and its role in reading these resources were helpful to me in writing this:
- Reading Magic by Mem Fox. You can also read her views on phonics at The Folly of Jolly Old Phonics
- Understanding Phonics and it’s Role in Literacy Education, by Marie T Emmett
- Early Literacy: Connecting Letters and Sounds, by Susan B. Neumann
How do you feel about phonics? How do you think parents can best help their child learn to read? And if you’re a teacher, should parents worry about phonics or leave it to teachers?
Visit Science@home to find out more about the Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival.
Please take the time to visit the other participants and check out their posts on "English."
- Monique at Your Cheeky Monkey has written about why her family thinks storytelling is so important, some storytelling ideas, and a few of their favorite books.
- Julie at Works For Me Homemaking is encouraging sound play with preschoolers and not just for fun. It is an important tool to develop sound awareness skills and enhance early literacy development.
- Staci from Teaching Money to Kids reminds us that sometimes language and interaction need to be explicitly taught and practiced, and has some ways to teach the language of sharing.
- Leechbabe from Stuff with Thing asks what happens when your child interprets everything said to them in a very literal way? How do you aid their understanding of the funny things people say?
- Squiggle Mum was reminded recently that you don't have to be a literacy specialist to know how to read aloud to a young child. After all, it ain't rocket science...
- Lisa at SMMART Ideas has a LETTER MATCHING activity to help you practice spelling words, or even foreign language vocabulary.
- Deb from Science@home has a giveaway to help you go on an expedition on your bookshelf.
- Colin Wee at Super Parents is teaching his kids to argue by learning how to create a reasoned argument for English creative writing and the OREO Acronym.
- The Planning Queen from Planning With Kids had her own bookclub when she and her son read the same book. It was a great experience to have a book discussion with her son where she hadn't been reading the story "to him".
- Deb Chitwood from Living Montessori agrees with Maria Montessori that young children have a natural love of learning. Thanks to matching Montessori sandpaper letters with small objects, her son decided as a toddler that learning to read was just a fun game.
- Amanda at HomeAge posts that we all know The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but Eric Carle has so much more to offer to young readers, particularly those interested in the natural world. With bright, beautiful artworks and simple, repetitive stories these books are a wonderful way to entice the young "reader".
- Miss Carly from Early Childhood Resources has steps and advice in creating a literacy rich environment for children of all ages.
- Christie at Childhood 101 points out that the process of sharing stories through oral storytelling is an age old tradition amongst families, but does it have a place in our busy modern day family life?
- Sarah at Bringing up Baby Bilingual describes her public library's Writing Buddies program where high school student volunteers lead groups of at-risk fourth and fifth graders through a series of outer-space-themed writing activities. Writing prompts and resources included in the post!
- CatWay at Adventures With Kids asks What is phonics all about? Is this something I should know more about to help my child learn to read and write?
- Narelle from A Bunch of Keys has some simple suggestions for making your own literacy resources for children at home. Includes ideas for books with simple rhymes, books with puppets, books about family trips and making felt boards.
- Zoe at Playing By the Book has gone fishing for words in illustrated dictionaries to support her early reader.