The easiest words are those that are spelled the same way as they sound. A phoneme is a sound, a grapheme is the written representation of that sound, the word "sound" has four phonemes: /s/ /ou/ /n/ and /d/. Words like bed, dark, sun and computer, have all their phonemes correspond with their graphemes and are therefore considered easier. Words like "bear" compared to "bare", or "reign" "rain" and "crane" are more difficult, as the same phoneme is represented by a different grapheme.
Simplistic, broad generalizations or “rules” do not work. For example, if we say that silent e signals a long vowel sound all the time, then we have a lot of issues. But if the generalization is made more specific, it is more applicable. For example, the silent e pattern is consistent more than 75 percent of the time in a_e, i_e, o_e, and u_e, but only consistent 16 percent of the time with e_e.
Sifting through the various educational options can be confusing as parents try to find the best fit for their child and budget. Time4Learning shares Hooked On Phonics® belief in the importance of engaging children and the significance of phonics. Many families like Time4Learning’s convenience, appeal to the children, and educational effectiveness. Time4Learning’s approach integrates phonics into a broad language arts (and math) curriculum. Parents can decide how much of the extensive program to use since Time4Learning is student-paced.
There has been a resurgence in interest in synthetic phonics in recent years, particularly in the United Kingdom. The subject has been promoted by a cross-party group of Parliamentarians, particularly Nick Gibb MP. A recent report by the House of Commons Education and Skills Committee called for a review of the phonics content in the National Curriculum. The Department for Education and Skills since announced a review into early years reading, headed by Sir Jim Rose, formerly Her Majesty's Inspector and Director of Inspection for Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, UK.)
The programme continues throughout the school years, by extending the earlier phonics teaching with further spelling, grammar and punctuation concepts. Each year of teaching provides continuous revision and consolidation of topics taught in previous years. Children are also taught the core concepts of grammar and punctuation, starting with simple age-appropriate definitions, which are gradually built on with each year of teaching. The teaching continues to be multi-sensory with actions and colour coding (fitting with Montessori) for parts of speech to help children develop their understanding of how language works. The systematic programme means children are given the tools that they need to independently write what they want clearly and with expression.
In addition, it is not clear how many months or years a phonics program should continue. If phonics has been systematically taught in kindergarten and 1st grade, should it continue to be emphasized in 2nd grade and beyond? How long should single instruction sessions last? How much ground should be covered in a program? Specifically, how many letter-sound relations should be taught, and how many different ways of using these relations to read and write words should be practiced for the benefits of phonics to be maximized? These questions remain for future research.