Robyn Dalby-Stockwell

Article Summary:

Phonics techniques to use at home to develop reading skills.

Phonics Tips for Parents

Phonic reading is back and it heralds the dawn of a brand new era of successful reading. Phonics is the only method by which children are able to decode almost any word in our language. But, because the system is only Analytic Phonics rather than the can-never-fail version called Synthetic Phonics, you the parent or guardian can do much to capitalize on what is being done and maximize your child's reading potential by:

Calling a spade a spade.
For over forty years I have successfully taught hundreds of children to read brilliantly and the only terms I have used have been, interchangeably, Phonics or Sounds. Suddenly our education gurus dictate phonemes, split diagraphs, diagraphs, graphemes etc. Top tip: K.I.S.S (keep it stunningly simple).

Having a phonic sheet in front of you as your child reads.
When a tricky word is reached, point to the relevant phonics and, together read across them to decode the word.

Removing the difficulty of tricky phonics, such as ight.
Write the sound in red felt-tip pen on a card and put it in a surprising place – on a broom handle – a tree trunk – a gumboot. Lift it out of its ordinariness.

Going on phonic adventures in the supermarket.
Look for labels and in-store notices such as 'Food Bargains This Week' and find the sounds. Soon your child will be finding them alone and doing wonders for her own reading.

Remembering that the reading habits your child establishes now will be firmly in place for the rest of her or his life.
Never allow your reader to guess and never encourage him or her to search for clues in the picture or to follow contextual clues. Reading is the science of decoding words and thus building meaningful sentences, paragraphs and texts. Guesswork is for puzzles and card tricks.

Hearing your child read aloud every day, preferably checking every word.
And that does not end at nine or ten years old. Remember, if you understand what he is reading it's pretty certain he understands the text too. A page – or a paragraph - of exactly what is written is miles better than twenty pages of rubbish.

Honing skills.
If your reader is phonic perfect but reading like rapid machine gun fire, producing one well-sounded word at a time – you can easily help her achieve fluency. Ask her to read two words at a time. When that's comfortable, up it to three, then four words. Then explain that words naturally fall into groups divided by commas and full stops. This word group method never fails.

Find success by encouraging, praising and turning it all into great fun, making it something he or she wants to do.

Robyn Dalby-Stockwell is a teacher, writer, broadcaster, reading consultant, and Director of Alonah Reading Cambridge, the only source of her four book literacy course which gives reading support to preschoolers, older children and their parents.

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