Although everyone is different, one of the easiest ways I’ve learned to teach reading is through phonics. Sight words work well for common words, but one of the fastest ways to build literacy is sounding words out. When we as adults come across words we don’t know, we sound them out. Phonics just teaches this at a younger age. Here are some of my favorite ways to teach phonics!
Start simple: When it comes to beginning the process of phonics, I really recommend starting out simple. Start by simply going through the alphabet and teaching your little ones how to sound out each letter in various situations. Some letters sound different depending on the word that they are in. For example, there is a short version and a long version of the letter “I”, in the word “it” the “I” is a short “I”, but in the word “Hi” the “I’ is carried out longer and considered a long “I.”
Use flash cards: As a visual learner, flash cards are one of my favorite ways to learn because they offer a visual clue. Walk into most stores and you can find phonics flash cards. The Dollar Store and garage sales are budget-friendly ways to find flash cards. These will have various words on them and they will show where you should be emphasizing each word.
Incorporate games/apps: Technology and electronics are a huge part of today’s world and they can be used for educational purposes as well. Apple’s App Store is full of iPhone and iPad apps designed to help with alphabet recognition and phonics. Once Upon a Child or other children’s resales are a great way to find inexpensive educational games to incorporate fun into learning.
Utilize music: Everything from Leap Frog’s The Letter Factory to songs on YouTube bring both a visual and auditory reminder for the alphabet.
Read: Read to your child every day. Encourage them to read to siblings, pets, or stuffed animals. Books with made up words, like Dr. Seuss’ often have, make children continue sounding words out.
Advance into higher levels: Once your kids have gotten comfortable with the idea of phonics, try moving into more difficult words and learning how to properly sound those out as well. The best thing you can possibly do is to just continue working on these things with your kids until they are fully comfortable with them.
Don’t give up, but don’t push: Sometimes no matter how hard you may try, phonics may just not be “sticking.” I’m a firm believer in perseverance, but if it truly isn’t working, try taking a break for a bit. Sometimes, taking a break gives time for your brain to recharge, and when you resume the topic again, something “clicks.”
Phonics can sometimes be a difficult subject to get used to, but with time and practice, kids will be able to perfect it!