Early Phonics Instruction
Our local school uses a phonics program that links reading and writing. It’s a nice program and works well when children are ready to write, but I prefer to start phonics earlier in a fun, informal way.
Why Do I Start Teaching Phonics Early?
When children are developmentally ready it is easier for them to grasp letter sounds outside of a school setting.
I knew my three-year-old was ready, when he suddenly became interested in the first letter of his name and he started spotting the letter “W” everywhere we went. I decided it was time to teach the letters and sounds.
My favourite program is Zoo-phonics because each letter is associated with an animal, an action, and the sound. This is good for kinaesthetic learners and just plain active three-year-old boys (like my son).
There are many other similar programs available to suit younger children. You can even make up your own phonics program incorporating your child’s interests (e.g. vehicles). I would include the sound, letter character, and action if I were to create my own.
My rule of thumb is to spend no more than three minutes of instruction with a three-year-old (4 minutes with a four-year-old, etc). Children this young have a short attention span and it is critical to keep phonics instruction fun and informal.
When I introduce Allie Alligator for letter “a” I chase my son around the lounge using my arms like snapping alligator jaws while I make the sound “a”, “a”, “a”. This is fun for him and he doesn’t even realise he is learning his letter sounds.
Let me know if you find an original way to introduce the letters and sounds. If you keep it fun and informal, your child will be more than ready to read when the time comes.