However, we suggest that the answer also varies by child and should be informed by simple diagnostic assessments. Some children are able to develop letter-sound knowledge more quickly and efficiently than others. This is one reason why differentiated phonics instruction is so well advised. Some instruction is provided to the whole class, but then it is reinforced and gaps are filled in as needed in a small-group context. Research has shown that reading achievement is supported when instruction is differentiated.3 A number of researchers have developed systems by which assessments determine which letter-sound relationships each child has learned and not yet learned, and a systematic series of lessons are provided accordingly.4 An important direction for our field is to work toward determining the most time-efficient approaches to ensuring each child in a class meets grade-level expectations in word reading each year.
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While most teachers and educational decision-makers recognize this, there may be a tendency in some classrooms, particularly in 1st grade, to allow phonics to become the dominant component, not only in the time devoted to it, but also in the significance attached. It is important not to judge children's reading competence solely on the basis of their phonics skills and not to devalue their interest in books because they cannot decode with complete accuracy. It is also critical for teachers to understand that systematic phonics instruction can be provided in an entertaining, vibrant, and creative manner.
Time4Learning offers engaging curriculum which covers math, language arts, science, and social studies. The language arts program has a strong phonics program along with listening comprehension, pre-phonics skills building such as phonemic/phonological awareness, vocabulary, self expression, writing, reading comprehension, and grammar. Time4Learning also includes social studies, science, and the option to add on a foreign language.
The correspondence between letters and sounds presents itself in several different ways. While letters remain the same, sound comes in different units: syllables, onsets and rimes and phonemes. Each syllable is made up of an onset, a rime or a combination of both. An onset is any consonants presented before a vowel in a syllable. For example, in the word “star”/st/ is the onset. Conversely a rime is any vowel and consonant(s) following an onset. In “star”/ar/ is the rime. Phonemes are the small units of sound that make up a word. While “star” consists of only one syllable, it contains four different phonemes: /s/ /t/ /a/ /r/.
Once children can identify the names of each letter, they can begin learning the most common sounds represented by each of the 26 letters of the alphabet. ABCmouse.com’s collection of The Letter Songs A–Z will help children identify those sounds, as will the hundreds of other games and activities such as the Alphabet Bubble Burst game and the book Alphabet in the Park.
The goal of phonics is to enable beginning readers to decode new written words by sounding them out, or, in phonics terms, blending the sound-spelling patterns. Since it focuses on the spoken and written units within words, phonics is a sublexical approach and, as a result, is often contrasted with whole language, a word-level-up philosophy for teaching reading.
A final point about letter-name knowledge: it is often noted that letter-name knowledge in preschool and kindergarten is a strong predictor of children’s later literacy achievement. This is true, but it is not because letter-name knowledge is an even-close-to-sufficient contributor to actual reading or writing. It is helpful, but some children learn to read knowing only letter sounds—no letter names. The predictive power of letter names lies largely in the fact that it is a proxy for other things. Children who know letter names early are more likely to have experienced a substantial emphasis on print literacy in the home and to have attended a strong preschool, for example, which in turn increase the likelihood of higher later reading and writing achievement. Naming letters is only one facet of letter knowledge, and probably not even the most important one. It is the application of letter-sound knowledge that advances children’s reading and spelling.
In order to have a true understanding of the purpose and function of letters and letter sounds, children must understand how words are represented in print, or concept of word.5 This means they know that words are collections of letters that represent a series of speech sounds that collectively represent a unit of meaning. They need to understand that each new word is signified by a space that does not contain any letters. They need to understand that you can see a word as well as say a word.
Time4Learning’s reading program includes phonetic-based lessons, helping children to acquire blending skills, to deconstruct sounds, and to approach the pronunciation of unfamiliar words. In addition as a literature-based feature, children are provided vocabulary, spelling, reading comprehension and writing components. The strategic combination is a successful tool in giving children the opportunity to explore and identify all facets of reading.
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In systematic or explicit phonics, students are taught the rules and the exceptions, they are not instructed to memorize words. Memorizing sight words and high frequency words has not been found to help fluency. Put Reading First adds that "although some readers may recognize words automatically in isolation or on a list, they may not read the same words fluently when the words appear in sentences in connected text. Instant or automatic word recognition is a necessary, but not sufficient, reading skill. Students who can read words in isolation quickly may not be able to automatically transfer this "speed and accuracy".
Scope and sequence is also important because it helps children to organize information into cognitive categories, or “file folders,” that support better cognitive storage and retrieval of information. For example, if one teaches information without a scope and sequence, one might move from teaching the short a sound in a consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) pattern (e.g., bag), to teaching the vowel digraph oa (e.g., boat), to teaching ch (e.g., chip), to teaching i_e (e.g., bike). It would be a lot easier to remember these patterns if they were taught in groups: for example, teaching all the short vowel sounds (a, e, i, o, and u), consonant digraphs that represent unique sounds (th, sh, ch), all the CVC-e (silent e) patterns (mate, Pete, bike, note, cute), and then both of the spelling patterns that represent the /oi/ sound (called a diphthong; oy and oi). If instruction follows a scope and sequence, the variations don’t seem random but rather work to form a category (e.g., “Oh this th is kind of like the ch, two letters that make a new consonant sound”).
Although conventional wisdom has suggested that kindergarten students might not be ready for phonics instruction, this assumption was not supported by the data. The effects of systematic early phonics instruction were significant and substantial in kindergarten and the 1st grade, indicating that systematic phonics programs should be implemented at those age and grade levels.
Phonics is a tried and proven method for learning to read. Although English is not purely a phonetic language, phonics is an important tool for beginners learning to read the language. Due to the effectiveness of phonics-based instruction, more public and private schools have emphasized phonics instruction in recent years. Parents who teach their children at home also frequently report satisfaction with instructional materials for phonics, based on the emails we receive.
Children are then introduced to vowel digraphs. A digraph is two vowels that together make one sound such as: /oa/, /oo/, /ee/, /ai/. They will move onto sounding out words such as deer, hair, boat, etc. and will be taught about split digraphs (or 'magic e'). They will also start to read words combining vowel digraphs with consonant clusters, such as: train, groan and stool.
English has absorbed many words from other languages throughout its history, usually without changing the spelling of those words. As a result, the written form of English includes the spelling patterns of many languages (Old English, Old Norse, Norman French, Classical Latin and Greek, as well as numerous modern languages) superimposed upon one another. These overlapping spelling patterns mean that in many cases the same sound can be spelled differently and the same spelling can represent different sounds. However, the spelling patterns usually follow certain conventions. In addition, the Great Vowel Shift, a historical linguistic process in which the quality of many vowels in English changed while the spelling remained as it was, greatly diminished the transparency of English spelling in relation to pronunciation.
A common question with any instructional program is whether "one size fits all." Teachers may be able to use a particular program in the classroom but may find that it suits some students better than others. At all grade levels, but particularly in kindergarten and the early grades, children are known to vary greatly in the skills they bring to school. Some children will already know letter-sound correspondences, and some will even be able to decode words, while others will have little or no letter knowledge.
Phonics instruction may be provided systematically or incidentally. The hallmark of a systematic phonics approach or program is that a sequential set of phonics elements is delineated and these elements are taught along a dimension of explicitness depending on the type of phonics method employed. Conversely, with incidental phonics instruction, the teacher does not follow a planned sequence of phonics elements to guide instruction but highlights particular elements opportunistically when they appear in text.
Children have problem in reading because they are not able to recognize the sounds of the letters of the alphabet in the words they read. Phonics reading will help children to recognize and associate sounds of the letters of the alphabet in the word they read. This will help them to improve in their reading skills and efficiency. In other words, it will be difficult for a child to improve in his reading skills if the teaching of phonics is removed from their curriculum.