Precisely 4 years ago, I was in a conversation with my cousin whose daughter had begun school recently. I happened to ask her if my niece had started learning the alphabets. To which my cousin responded that she was baffled by what they were doing at school with the alphabets. Further discussion revealed that they weren’t being taught Alphabets the traditional way in the normal ABCD… order. This is how we learnt alphabets and have seen generations learning the same. But the new order of learning alphabets is different. It is based on ease of their sound and identification of letters.
Now that my own son has begun school and has started learning alphabets the phonics way, the first thing I was told during parents’ orientation was that please follow what’s being done in the class. If you try and take a head start it may just confuse the child. I was left curious as to why it was so. What is it that I need to know about phonics way of learning alphabets that I have missed out.
Some research and interaction with teachers from kindergarten, revealed the benefits of phonics learning. Here I have tried to put down whatever parents need to know about the phonics way of learning alphabets.
What is Phonics?
Phonics is a method of teaching to identify, pronounce and read by learning the phonetic value of letters and words.
It may be argued that the phonics methodology has limited logical applicability and it may be distorting the whole language concept. Yet phonics has multiple benefits for the beginners.
Enables learning of word construction
Once the kids have been taught the sound of alphabets, the group of letters pronounced in continuation with their respective sounds will help them identify and learn words.
Many children find it hard to relate the alphabets (that have been already taught) to their sounds. At the beginners’ level, this restricts their ability to associate with the letters in respective words and combine them to correctly pronounce the word in consideration.
Enables learning of word spellings
It is impossible to spell a word correctly if there is lack of clarity regarding sounds of letters used in the word. When children are taught phonics, they will be able to recognize the sound of the letters in the word and will make a more focused effort at identifying the correct spelling of a word.
Better fluency in Language
Fluency in reading language would mean, being able to read fast as well as with accuracy. Research has proven that if children know their phonemes correctly they will be inclined to read faster and read exactly what they are meant to.
Once children are able to recognize and read text fluently and correctly, it is only a consequence that they will have better understanding of the words being used and will understand the context of the words used while reading. All the above benefits have a positive compounded impact in improving the writing skill of the kids.
And its fun
The teaching of phonemes is designed to make learning fun for kids. As per Nik’s accounts of what happens in his class, I understand that there are a lot of games involved whenever they learn a new sound or revise the previous ones. Because kids are also building up their word bank in the process, a lot of colorful pictures are involved in the process. Thus the overall experience is enriching, fun and vibrant on the whole.
P.S. – I have created my own set of flash cards to help Nik revise his phonemes, which will be my next post in DIY category.