What is Phonics? How is it important?

BASIC KNOWLEDGE NEEDED FOR GOOD HANDWRITING

These are some hints cover the basic letter knowledge needed for good handwriting:

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  1. All the alphabets are the same size except –
    a b c d e f g h i  j  k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z
  • The seven letters that have sticks above the body of the letter:
    ‹b, d, f, h, k, l and t›.
    Note that ‹t› is not as tall as the other tall letters.
  • The six letters that have tails that go below the line:
    ‹f, g, j, p, q and y›.

2. Most letters go down towards the line first: ‹b, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, p, r, t, u, v, w, x, y and f ›. Note that ‹f › arcs backwards a little before it goes down.
3. The following letters start like a ‹c›: ‹a, d, o, g, q›. These are referred to as the ‘half circle or caterpiller c’ letters. The ‹s› also starts like a ‹c›, but curves around like a snake.
4. The formation of the letters ‹z› and ‹e› starts with a horizontal left-to-right line. Note that the ‹e› starts lower than the other letters and comes back over like a ‹c›.

Parents can be of invaluable help here. They are in a good position to encourage correct formation and a good pencil hold. For more details pl. visit on the following post –

Learning the letter formation and pencil hold

tripod grip
5. The children should be told that the letters in a word are written close together, but without bumping. Children should also be told to leave a space between words.
It is important to revise the formation of each letter regularly. When the children are writing, it is a good idea to check the pencil hold and make sure the letter formation is correct.

OUTLINE STRATEGIES TO HELP STRUGGLING CHILDREN IN READING AND WRITING -II

JP “Research has shown that early success at reading is clearly one of the keys that unlocks a lifetime of reading habits.” It is for this reason right from an early age,  we need to ensure that children are successful at reading. I believe that reading is the base for success in all other subjects. If children struggle with their reading they should be helped immediately by first carefully identifying them to ensure that the child is actually struggling rather than just having a bad day. I don’t think that it is possible in a class where there is no student struggling. As teachers and parents, we need to remember that we will always have struggling children and so, we may need to alter our teaching style and content covered so that all children are ensured success.
“Learning to read is a challenge for almost 20-40 percent of kids…The good news is that with early help, most reading problems can be prevented. The bad news is that nearly half of all parents who notice their child having trouble wait a year or more before getting help. Unfortunately, the older a child is, the more difficult it is to teach him or her to read. If a child can’t read well by the end of third grade, odds are that he or she will never catch up. And the effects of falling behind will have an impact on their overall learning and development.” 
Children who struggle usually have problems in the following areas –

1. phonological and phonemic awareness
2. word decoding and phonics
3. vocabulary
4. fluency
5. comprehension
How to help children who are struggling?
There are many ways of helping children and one of them is trial and error before deciding which ones best work for the group of children who are struggling.
1. review the sounds with the small group of children who are having difficulty
2. individual attention from the teacher helps as some children need that one to one interaction in order to learn
3. Lots and lots of positive reinforcement, encouragement  and  appreciation for the little milestones the children achieve
4. If the teacher divides the class into groups and gets children with similar abilities to work together for one part of the class and then mixed abilities where a stronger child is paired with a weaker one so that the children help each other.
5. Lots of activities where the sounds are reinforced
6. The individuals, may be parents or teacher could help the child by focusing on the 5 basic skills being which are mentioned in detail in earlier posts –
a. learning letter sounds
b. learning letter formations
c. blending sounds
d. identifying sounds in words (beginning, middle, end)
e. tricky words
Flash cards  and activity based games can be an effective way to teach and review sounds, blending and tricky words. I think this is very  important for children to feel success in whatever they achieve as that is a prime motivator for them to keep going. With technology moving the way it is, tablets seem to be the new way and there are tons of apps out there to help and promote reading.  Decodable readers may also be beneficial for students who have just struggled to blend a few sounds together. In order to help struggling children, parental support is quite essential. Parents often don’t know how to help their children and having parent workshops during the early years to explain to them how important they are in the educational journeys their children have embarked upon and also to enable them to help the child by supporting their learning at home.
Finally, if a teacher has tried several of the strategies listed above and are still finding that a particular child is not coping it may be time to refer them to an outside specialist for assessment to ensure that there is not something more complex going on. Most children who are struggling will benefit from one or more of the above strategies and there may be a small percentage who need to be referred.

Outline strategies to help struggling children in reading and writing -I

JP2 Identifying  the struggling children in reading and writing early on and providing extra support for them enables these children to be successful too.
In a typical class, about 20% of the children need extra help at some stage. This translates to about six children in a class of thirty, but in a poor socio-economic area the number of struggling children tends to be greater.
There are two main steps that need to be taken in order to help the struggling children in reading and writing succeed.
Step 1 – Identification of struggling children and their area of problem-
Even during the first two weeks of teaching with Phonics, a struggling child can be identified by the following signs –
(a) If  he/she fails to learn the letter sound. This is an indication of poor visual memory.
(b) If a child fails to hear the word when he / she has said the sounds or when the teacher has said the sounds. This shows a sign of poor blending skill.
Further, struggling children tend to copy the more able children rather than developing the skills themselves. It is also important to identify what a struggling child knows and what still needs to be taught as in some cases a child faces problem in some particular sounds only.

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Step 2 – Remedies for struggling children –
Children who are struggling need to receive extra intervention through a wide range of games and activities.
(a) These children should be provided with extra letter sound and blending lessons in which they can learn these skills better everyday on a regular basis..
(b) They should be taught the whole  Phonics programme again, starting with the /s/ sound and five basic skills i.e., –
(i)  Learning letter sound
(ii) Learning letter formation
(iii) Blending (for reading)
(iv) Identifying sounds in words (for writing)
(v) Tricky words (for reading and spelling)
(c) Parents need to be informed. They should be encouraged to support their children at home. This could be done by sending sounds at home for extra practice and parents should listen to these letters / sounds everyday to reinforce the skills learnt in class.           (d) It is also important not only to focus on helping children to be able to read and write but also praise and encourage them so that they would be as successful as his/her peers.

Outline strategies to help struggling children in reading and writing

JP2 Identifying  the struggling children in reading and writing early on and providing extra support for them enables these children to be successful too.
In a typical class, about 20% of the children need extra help at some stage. This translates to about six children in a class of thirty, but in a poor socio-economic area the number of struggling children tends to be greater.
There are two main steps that need to be taken in order to help the struggling children in reading and writing succeed.
Step 1 – Identification of struggling children and their area of problem-
Even during the first two weeks of teaching with Phonics, a struggling child can be identified by the following signs –
(a) If  he/she fails to learn the letter sound. This is an indication of poor visual memory.
(b) If a child fails to hear the word when he / she has said the sounds or when the teacher has said the sounds. This shows a sign of poor blending skill.
Further, struggling children tend to copy the more able children rather than developing the skills themselves. It is also important to identify what a struggling child knows and what still needs to be taught as in some cases a child faces problem in some particular sounds only.

jp3

Step 2 – Remedies for struggling children –
Children who are struggling need to receive extra intervention through a wide range of games and activities.
(a) These children should be provided with extra letter sound and blending lessons in which they can learn these skills better everyday on a regular basis..
(b) They should be taught the whole  Phonics programme again, starting with the /s/ sound and five basic skills i.e., –
(i)  Learning letter sound
(ii) Learning letter formation
(iii) Blending (for reading)
(iv) Identifying sounds in words (for writing)
(v) Tricky words (for reading and spelling)
(c) Parents need to be informed. They should be encouraged to support their children at home. This could be done by sending sounds at home for extra practice and parents should listen to these letters / sounds everyday to reinforce the skills learnt in class.           (d) It is also important not only to focus on helping children to be able to read and write but also praise and encourage them so that they would be as successful as his/her peers.

Why synthetic phonics has been found to be a more effective teaching approach than analytic Phonics?

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 In analytic phonics, teaching starts at the whole word level, the children have a good knowledge of the 26 alphabet letters and sounds at the end of the year. But they do not know how to blend these sounds for reading, or identify them in words for writing. They are also unaware of sounds made with more than one letter i.e. digraphs and blends.
Whereas, synthetic phonics have been proven more effective as it focuses on the letter-sound correspondence, regardless of the child’s background, gender or mother tongue. When this is built in, the children then find it easier to learn that the letter could also have names. The idea of letter sounds and letter names makes synthetic phonics more structured and easier for children as they gradually learn how to blend words as well. It begins with single letters and the sounds they produce. The multi-sensory approach of Synthetic Phonics teaches 42 sounds with actions and letter shapes. This helps the children learn and remember them easily and fast. Blending is introduced almost immediately and this gives the children an opportunity to begin reading simple words within the first couple of days. They read the word rather than memorize it. They learn to decode words using letter sounds, and blend these sounds together to produce a correct reading of the whole word. Further, reading and writing become fun for them. Phrases like “This is a tough word”, or “This time the rule won’t work” for tricky and difficult words help in maintaining a positive outlook in the children for reading and writing.