In order to read successfully, children need two skills; phonics and language comprehension. They need to be able to decode by blending the sounds in words to read them and they need to be able to understand what the word means and the context within which it appears. Phonics is a means to an end. The sooner that children can recognise the sounds (phonemes), the letters (graphemes) that represent them and blend them together in order to read words, the sooner they can read for understanding, purpose and pleasure. Language development Understanding is developed through language. The exploration and explicit teaching of new vocabulary, ideas, information and increasing knowledge and understanding of the world will develop comprehension. If children understand something that they hear, they will understand it when they read. So phonics and language development should go hand-inhand. But for beginner readers, phonics takes the lead as the prime approach to reading. Talk! Talk! Talk! Talk about people, places, events, stories, information and ideas. Encourage children to question and explore themes, problems and issues. Use books, photographs, paintings, films, role-play and creativity to generate discussion and vocabulary. What is phonics? Phonics:
- is a method of teaching children to connect the letters of the alphabet to the sounds that they make and blend them for reading;
- is a method of teaching children to identify the individual sounds (phonemes) within words and segment them for spelling. Why phonics first? The independent review of early reading conducted by Jim Rose confirmed that ‘high quality phonic work’ should be the prime means for teaching children how to read and spell words.