Phonics and Reading: Nurturing Confidence from the Very Beginning
What is phonics?
Reading is an extraordinary thing. It is one of the most important skills acquired in early childhood. And while it’s distinctly unnatural, it forms an intrinsic part of our lives.
Reading is taken for granted by most of us, that is, until it’s time to help our own kids learn to read. And if you’re not a teacher or a literacy expert, it can be extremely difficult to know where to start.
There have been many methods of teaching children how to read in the past. The phonics method is widely promoted by researchers, literacy experts and teachers as the most effective way children learn to read.
Phonics is one of the five essential elements of learning to read, alongside phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension.
So, what exactly is phonics?
Phonics is a method of instruction that helps children learn and be able to use the alphabetic principle – the concept that words are made up of letters, and letters represent sounds.
Phonics instruction does this by teaching children to decode words by sounds – showing them how to make connections between the letters of written texts (graphemes, or letter symbols) and the sounds of spoken language.
One of the major difficulties children can have when learning to read is understanding phonics. Failure to grasp that printed symbols represent the sounds of spoken words makes it impossible to become a fluent reader.
Children who are unable to link letters to their sound(s) will struggle to read. Research shows that phonics instruction is essential for any programme that aims to teach children how to read.
Without an understanding of the relationship between letters and sounds, the process of reading cannot occur.
What is synthetic phonics?
Synthetic phonics is the process in which words are broken up into the smallest units of sound (phonemes).
Children are taught the letters (graphemes) that represent these phonemes and also learn to blend them (or synthesise them, hence the name) into words. For example, a child is taught to read the letters in a word like b-a-t, and then merge them to pronounce the word bat.
A phoneme can be represented by one, two, three or four letters (such as "ough" in "dough").
Of course, there are some words that cannot be learned by breaking them into smaller parts. Children must learn them by sight, and these words are known as sight words.
Helping a child learn to read is complex, and it requires expertise. Since reading is such an essential skill for children to learn, it’s important to get it right. Teaching reading should be guided by a solid scientific knowledge base, with support starting from home.
An instructional reading programme that combines phonics, sight words and opportunities for regular reading is the most effective way children can learn to read.
Reading Eggs uses synthetic phonics to help children become great readers
Reading Eggs is made up of instructional, one-on-one lessons that explicitly focus of mapping an individual letter, or letter combination, with its appropriate sound.
Each letter of the alphabet is introduced in its own lesson with a focus on reinforcing letter-sound relationships and highlighting the alphabetic principle. Try a sample lesson of Reading Eggs here.
Within the Reading Eggs programme, the sequence of instructional activities includes rhymes, alliteration, breaking words into syllables, phonemic segmentation and manipulation tasks.
The programme is easy to follow and highly motivating for young learners, which encourages them to keep learning and improving from beginning to end.
Reading Eggs also builds other essential reading skills, alongside phonics
Reading Eggs is designed by literacy experts and based on the most up-to-date research and learning principles.
Here’s how the programme teaches essential skills in phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, spelling and comprehension (the five essential elements of learning to read):
- Comprises highly structured, systematic and sequential skills-based lessons and activities
- Offers an early and continued focus on phonemic awareness as well as grapheme-phoneme (letter-sound) correspondence knowledge
- Teaches children how to synthesise (blend) all the way through a word in order to read it
- Teaches children how to segment words in order to spell them, and reinforces the connection between blending and segmenting with a variety of interactive games and activities
- Builds automaticity of a core list of high-frequency sight words
- Provides repetition of activities and re-reading of texts to build fluency
- Includes vocabulary activities that ensure reading for meaning is central.
How your child will benefit from Reading Eggs’ phonics approach
Reading Eggs is based on solid scientific research and developed by a team of educators with over 30 years of experience.
The programme teaches children to decode words into sounds, and encode sounds into words. This happens within a wide range of activities that feel like a game. This way, young learners stay engaged and motivated as they practise.
Children begin by learning the appropriate sound for each letter of the alphabet, including letter combinations. Each letter of the alphabet is featured in its own lesson, and lessons build on one another systematically. By lesson 9, children are able to read their first book.
Each lesson ends with a book that matches your child’s current reading ability, providing them with the thrill of reading on their own.
In the first 60 lessons, all of Reading Eggs’ books are highly decodable, using words that have been introduced and reinforced by the lessons. The programme responds to readers at their level of ability, making it possible for children to consistently read at their own individual level. This is extremely beneficial for their learning and overall confidence.
If the lessons are too easy, children lose interest; if they are too hard, children lose motivation. But, pitch a lesson right at a child’s level, interest and motivation is maintained, and reading comprehension grows along with reading success.
As well as working through the alphabet, and the sounds that each letter makes, Reading Eggs also includes lessons on phonics skills such as working with beginning and end blends of letters, the variety of sounds that vowels make, diphthongs, consonant letter sounds such as soft c, g, and y, silent letters, double letter sounds, word families, and how to work through words with more than one syllable.
See how Reading Eggs works with a free trial
Not only does Reading Eggs use proven methods to build essential phonics and reading skills, the programme is so much fun. Children love playing the games and earning rewards as they learn and develop a real love of reading.
By using the Reading Eggs programme, children learn to read in an engaging and enjoyable way. All of the lessons are embedded in game-like activities that encourage children to play as they learn. When they succeed, they are rewarded with prizes, such as the golden eggs they receive at the end of each activity completed.
With the lessons being so fun, young readers enjoy spending time using Reading Eggs—and the more time they spend in the programme, the more that they learn! It’s what makes the programme so successful in home across 169 different countries.
See how Reading Eggs can help your child learn to read in just weeks. Start your free trial here today and join over 10 million users worldwide.