Language is one of the key developments in a child, and it’s never too early to start your kiddos on learning to read. Although there are various methods out there, all promising easy, effective reading, one of the most popular ways to give your children a head start is by using phonics. Phonics is especially useful for children because it allows them to visualize the sounds that the letters of a word makes. Phonics is also a great way to get kids to read words that they’ve never seen before correctly, which builds confidence and bumps up their reading level by encouraging the use of context clues. We’ve compiled a handy list to help your kid with language and phonics.
10 Sing the Alphabet as a Daily Routine
Since phonics rely completely on the alphabet and the sound that each letter makes, there’s no better way to get your child on the right track than to practice the alphabet song. You can easily incorporate such a short and simple song into various parts of a typical day. For example, you can ask them to sing the ABCs while washing their hands as a good timekeeper or add the song to their bedtime routine. As long as you’re maintaining this habit, your child will be more familiar with the letters.
To step it up a notch, ask them to go through the alphabet and tell you what sounds each letter could potentially make.
9 Practice with Read-Aloud Books
Secondly, a great strategy to get your little one into the habit of practicing their phonics is to have them read the bedtime stories instead of you. There are tons of very short picture books out there that are designed to be read aloud by children, and you’ll be able to find a variety of genres to suit your child’s age and passions. Feel free to help them by sounding out the beginning of a new word, but try to let your child take the wheel during this activity. Reading aloud is one of the best ways to practice language and phonics. As a plus, the books are very affordable.
8 Incorporate Phonics Everywhere You Go
Instead of dedicating hours each day to reading exercises or tedious work, relax and just simply incorporate phonics into everyday life. For example, experts suggest getting your little one to read some labels at the grocery store. Not only is this a fun bonding exercise, but a grocery store is also a wonderful place to make use of the visual cues. Your child will be able to connect the way a certain word looks to the actual appearance of the item, which will help them remember the new word for next time! Other places to practice phonics include parks, museums, and even street signs on the road!
7 Take it One Step at a Time
Especially if your kids are still very young, the best way to approach phonics and language is to take it one step at a time. For example, the I Can Read! series offers multiple different levels to suit children of any age. Don’t be afraid to let your child start right at the beginning, with short, one-sentence stories and bright visuals to help them link the words to objects and ideas. For very young children, you could even have them learn one word a day, and quiz them on the words of the previous days at the end of the week. Be sure to offer plenty of praise and encouragement, and don’t be worried if progress seems slow.
6 Play Letter Games
Children love games! A fun way to get your child excited and ready to learn phonics is to make up some simple games to boost their interest. For example, you could play tic-tac-toe with letters instead of circles and X’s. Switch them out for new letters each day, and make up a rule that players must sound the letter out during their turn. Alternative games also include memory and Go Fish.
All you need for these simple card games is to put letters or words on index cards, and using traditional rules coupled with phonics to have a blast with your child! These games are also great for getting your older children or partner involved in a family game night.
5 Incorporate Fun Arts and Crafts
In addition to games and puzzles, kids also tend to love hands-on activities involving glitter, paper mache, or paint. Incorporating some arts and crafts into their learning of phonics will greatly boost your children’s enthusiasm as well as help maintain their concentration and focus levels. Plus, there are endless possibilities for you to mix and match on different days of the week. Have your little one paint a picture using letters in creative ways, or create words using clay! Always remember to ask your child to sound out the words they’re using for maximum effectiveness. You could even turn their creations into momentos such as baked clay ornaments for Christmas or a card for your partner’s birthday!
4 Have a Phonics Play Date
Another tip to get your children to practice phonics and have some fun at the same time is to team up with other parents for a play date. Kids are much more productive when they do not find the task boring, and there’s no better way to add some fun than bringing a friend along. Have the kids play some of the phonics games mentioned above, or do an arts and crafts project together. You can also provide some exciting storybooks and ask them to take turns reading aloud for verbal practice. If they’re into putting on a show, you could even have them perform a song or a skit using phonics and simple words for the parents!
3 Get the Teacher Involved
No matter if your little one is struggling with phonics or not, it’s always a great idea to talk to their teacher about reading and language. For one, teachers are a great resource for assistance outside the classroom. You could ask them for a program recommendation, or book sets that you could purchase to help your kiddos read. Secondly, making suggestions to the teacher will also allow them to consider changing the curriculum slightly to accommodate more reading activities. Perhaps you could bring up some of the phonics games you play at home, and ask if it’s possible to incorporate them at school as well!
2 Watch Educational Reading Shows
In this technological era, there are tons of online and television resources for you to consider throughout your children’s development. Specifically, many local broadcasting stations will have plenty of reading and phonics shows for you to consider. A great classic is Sesame Street, with which your children can learn the word of the day with the muppets, practice reading, and enjoy themselves at the same time. If you’re into relatively newer cartoons, then check out Word World, one of the best shows for learning phonics. In fact, all the characters and objects on the show are made up of the letters in their word, and the episodes focus primarily on getting kids to sound out letters and create phrases!
1 Boost Comprehension
Lastly, it’s important to remember that phonics is only relevant in the context of the words they represent. If your little one is struggling with language or phonics, you could try boosting their comprehension of the ideas and characters in the story. Many times, kids will have an easier time remembering words if they also understand what they mean in the context of the plot. In order to boost your children’s comprehension, try asking them to recap the book every time they finish reading, or go through the story sentence by sentence, pausing to explain the meaning of words and phrases along the way.