How To Practice Phonics With Kids At Home

Parenting is about teaching. Often the answers to our kids’ questions about sounds, letters, spellings, and words are not as simple as you might think. How do you explain to your child that the letter “c” can be like “see” in the word grace or “c” in a call? Why the word, “mommy”, does not end with the letter “i”, or why you cannot exactly pronounce the word “was” as it is written? 

If you are a parent of a beginning reader, you must have heard a lot about phonics. Here is how you can help your child practice phonics at home.

What is Phonics?

Phonics is about learning the relationship between sounds and letters or the link between what we read or write and what we say. It gives beginning readers the tools they need to pronounce words. For example, you begin by telling kids that the letter “d” sounds “/d/” as in doll and later, they will learn how to combine sounds of various letters to pronounce words like “dog”. So, as kids advance as readers, they should be able to blend letter sounds without stumbling or stuttering flawlessly. 

Why is Phonics Tricky? 

Preschoolers begin their reading journey with phonological awareness, learning to recognize letters and the sound of every letter. Halfway through kindergarten, children advance to blending simpler words and building fluency.

The more easily kids can hear, recognize, and manipulate sounds, the easier it will be for them to decipher new words when they read. Phonics is the fundamental building block of literacy that can be developed over the years. Most children will spend a significant part of their kindergarten days learning phonics – the connection between 26 letters and 44 unique sounds.  

It gets tricky to explain the difference between short vowel sounds “a” and “e”. Letter combinations like “th” and “sh” sound similar to a young ear. A 5-year-old finds it hard to spell “kid” and is likely to say, “c-i-d”, pushing parenting to explain and practice phonics with their child. 

Interesting Ways To Reinforce Phonics Learning at Home

Kids need countless opportunities to hear and grasp the sounds of words to eventually decode words for fluent reading. The following three simple phonics-based activities best for supporting the literacy development of your kid at home.

Read Aloud their Favourites

Pick up books on topics that excite your child. You can choose story books or poems. Read them aloud using different voices for every character. When you put on character voices and pronounce words enthusiastically, your child will easily pick up on what you are saying. They will be encouraged to associate different words with stories and characters they love. This practice will keep them engaged and help them retain the sounds associated with different words. 

Boost Comprehension

Asking questions during story time boosts comprehension. It pushes them to recall, favoring the memorization of sounds. You can ask questions like, “What did he mean by that?” or “What do you think would happen next?”

Revisiting familiar books is beneficial. Allowing your kid to master just one or two books builds confidence and advances their progress. So, do not cast away your child’s wish to re-read their favorite books from earlier years. 

Mimic and Record

Phonics requires practice. So, ask your child to mimic what you read or their favorite movie dialogue or song. Make the child repeat what their favorite TV character says, how they move their mouth and lips, and how they use their tone and rhythm to convey meaning. Record their practice sessions and let them listen to them. You can also let the child practice in front of the mirror. 

In a Nutshell

Phonics is not the key to fast learning; rather, it is the art of comprehensive learning that stays with the child forever. So, you must invest in structured endeavors to boost your child’s confidence with engaging activities.