Hello, dear parents! Today, let’s dive into the world of synthetic phonics, an influential approach to early reading that could significantly benefit your little ones. Synthetic phonics for preschoolers might sound technical, but it’s simply a method of teaching reading by blending sounds to form words. This approach has gained popularity for its effectiveness, and understanding its benefits is crucial for parents of preschoolers.
Understanding Synthetic Phonics
Synthetic phonics teaches children to read by first learning the sounds of letters and letter groups, then blending these sounds to form words. It differs from other methods like analytic phonics, which emphasizes whole-word recognition, or the whole language approach, which focuses on context and sight words. The emergence of synthetic phonics marks a shift towards a more structured way of introducing very young minds to the wonders of reading.
Benefits of Synthetic Phonics
Synthetic phonics offers several benefits for preschoolers, making it an effective approach to teaching reading and writing. Some of the key advantages include:
1.Early Reading Skills:
One of the most significant advantages of synthetic phonics is its ability to equip children with reading skills at an early age. This foundational skill sets the stage for future academic success. It also teaches children to decipher words on their own, leading to less dependence on external help with reading and writing.
Synthetic phonics meticulously introduces phonemes, the smallest units of sound in a language. This understanding is critical for both reading and spelling.
3. Coding and Decoding Abilities:
The synthetic method reinforces language codes, which is essential for improving reading and writing skills
4. General Cognitive Development:
It promotes achievement in other subjects beyond English and helps in the development of general thinking skills
5.Confidence and Fun and Engaging:
Synthetic phonics can be a fun and engaging way for children to learn to read and spell words. Early mastery of reading can significantly boost a child’s confidence, transforming reading from a challenging task into an enjoyable and fulfilling activity.
6.Long-term Educational Benefits:
Research indicates that children who start with synthetic phonics tend to have better reading skills in the long run. This method is especially helpful for children with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia.
Implementing Synthetic Phonics For Preschoolers at Home
As parents, your role in your child’s learning journey is pivotal. You can reinforce synthetic phonics learning at home through simple activities and games that make learning enjoyable. Remember, consistency is key, and patience goes a long way. Try to create a fun and stress-free learning environment that encourages your child’s natural curiosity.
Here are some tips for parents to support your children’s reading practice at home:
i) Make sure you practise well with your child and the what is done is consistent with what he is taught at school. A good place to start is learning to say each letter sound (e.g. /s/ as in ‘sit’) correctly for reading instead of using the letter name (e.g. ‘ess’) to identify a letter.
ii) Look for opportunities to demonstrate sound/letter correspondences such as on signs on boards or on menu cards at restaurants. If they are not sure, demonstrate the sound and letter yourself and then ask your child to do the same.
iii) Once your child has successfully decoded a sentence, ask them questions about what they have just read. This will help them to build comprehensions skills, which is another essential component of effective reading. You could ask questions like, ‘What do you think that means?’ or ‘What do you think will happen next?’.
iv) Build your child’s confidence by acknowledging when he has read successfully. Depending on your child’s reading skill, success could be making the correct sound for a letter or reading a complete sentence without assistance. If your child makes a mistake, acknowledge what they have tried hard and then offer corrective feedback tactfully.
Some Examples of Games that can be Played
1. Touch the sound or jump on sounds
Working on letter sounds in isolation, put them on the wall and you say one out loud. Your preschooler then has to go and touch or jump on the sound that he or she hears. You could also do this with words and your child has to touch or jump on the word which contains the sound.
2. Memory games
Any memory game will help children’s quick recognition of the sounds and is a fun way of revising the letter sounds they have learnt. Try having two sets of letter sounds and asking your child to find the matching pair when placed face down on the table. Or have some on the table and take one away when your child closes his or her eyes, then, he or she has to guess which one has been removed.
3. Colour dictation
Give your child a picture which he or she has to colour according to your instructions. Either have objects which contain some of the letter sounds that he or she has learnt (e.g. pet- e or dog- o). Tell him or her to colour each object a different colour. This way he or she practises identifying sounds in words he or she hears, but he or she doesn’t have to write anything down. This is great when your child is still working on letter formation skills.
4. Building blocks
Get some building blocks, or simply use cut outs of the letter sounds. Give your child a simple word and ask her or her to put the blocks into the correct order so that they make the word you have said.
Challenges and Considerations
While synthetic phonics offers numerous benefits, it’s essential to recognize that each child is unique. Some children might grasp these concepts quicker than others, and that’s perfectly okay. It’s important not to force the pace but to offer support and encouragement.
In summary, synthetic phonics is a powerful tool in your child’s early education arsenal. It lays a strong foundation for reading and can instil a lifelong love for learning. Along with phonics instruction, young preschoolers should be solidifying their knowledge of the alphabet, engaging in phonemic awareness activities, and listening to stories and informational texts read aloud to them. They also should be reading texts (both out loud and silently), and writing letters, words, messages, and stories.
As parents, your support and involvement are invaluable. Remember, you’re not just teaching them to read; you’re opening doors to a world of knowledge and imagination.