Phonics: Where to start? Avoiding letters………

When you begin teaching phonics, it’s always good to first find out where your students are developmentally in the learning process. Once you have done this (I’ll give some examples at a later date), it’s time to start. But the big question is how? Let’s start with absolute beginners. These students need you to start from square one and this means learning how to recognise and identify initial (first) sounds in words. Start with simple, everyday pictures, have students name the picture eg. apple and identify the sound ‘a’. I would not introduce any graphemes (letters) at this stage as, in English, the actual letter is not the represented sound. A good example of this is ‘phone’. The initial phoneme (sound) is ‘f’, but the first letter is ‘p’. Totally confusing. As a matter of practice I will never introduce letters until the students have mastered the first sound with automatic access.

Writing student names and letter formation are, at this stage, unimportant. Handwriting development can be done using general shapes and lines, without introducing the confusion of actual letters to the learning process. Students can copy their name, if need be.

Play lots of games using first sounds. Matching them to similar first sounds, discriminating different first sounds, memory games etc are all good ways to reinforce the sounds.

You will be tempted to introduce letters to the lesson, but hold off until your students have automatic access and they will benefit more than you could have imagined.

Image courtesy of google clip art 19 August, 2014


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Filed under Phonics, Young Learners

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