By Lydia Lok
Learning to read is an important skill in life and preschools these days start spelling and dictation at the K2 level. Children are expected to read by the time they enter primary school. When parents realise that their child still struggles with reading at the age of five, they often stress and worry over needing to see improvements in a short time frame.
Parents often ask me why Phonics is important since it is already taught in schools. Locally, not all preschools use Phonics to teach literacy, and for children who are taught using the Whole Language method (where reading is taught through repetition), are often unable to decode new words when they attend our literacy classes.
Children who learn through the Whole Language approach, while able to read a book with repetitive sentences, struggle when you remove a word from the sentence. If your child attends a preschool that utilises the Phonics approach; teachers are usually expected to teach multiple subjects and childcare teachers – on top of their teaching schedule – are also tasked with the other needs of your child such as meal, bath and nap times. Additionally, preschool teachers are not literacy specialists; they may not be equipped to fully translate the concept to your child.
Reinforce phonics concepts at home
If your child already attends Phonics classes, practicing at home will be hugely beneficial to your child’s progress. Here are some practical steps on how to do this with your child at home:
1. Have a reading session every night with your child.
According to my mentor Victoria Carlton, this step works wonders for children with reading difficulties because just reading along with parents help children absorb tricky words (commonly known as “sight words”)
2. Place tricky words in places your child will look at frequently.
For example on the bathroom mirror or on a wall facing the dining table (ensure that it is at your child’s eye level) or on the refrigerator.
3. Watch videos that help kids practice their Phonics sound together with your child.
Here are two videos are rather helpful for such purposes: Jolly Phonics Song for Children in Order and Jolly Phonics Sounds and Actions.
4. Read age-appropriate books with your child.
Many parents tell me that their child hates reading. This is often not the case and more so because they are trying to read books that are not right for their age and children can get easily discouraged.
Children need a lot of encouragement and age-appropriate books to help them along. If they express interest in reading books that may be difficult, don’t discourage them; instead, read along with them. When you do see them struggling, gently suggest an alternative to them.
5. Practice writing with worksheets.
Practice makes perfect and you can get some great free ones here.
Lydia Lok is a co-founder of Curious Thoughts Academy, a tuition academy that provides a range of English lessons for all ages, and is a licensed Victoria Carlton Literacy Centre. For every three paying students, the center teaches an underprivileged child for free. For more information, visit academy.curiousthoughts.sg.