Learning to Read Phase 2: Learning Phonics

Learning phonics is a crucial step in the learning to read process. Get more info about how to help a kid with learning phonics.

Introduction

Learning to read is important because we interact with the world through the written word. A LOT. Writing emails, Facebook posts, reading instructions, sending text messages, or even just seeing a sign when driving to a new destination. A lot of our daily interactions are based on the written word.

Reading is also a very good predictor for academic success, according to Michigan State University. Yet less and less time is spent reading and teaching our kids to read. We are letting our kids jump straight to YouTube and TikTok videos.

Kobi_Children Reading On Tablet
3 in 4 kids are left with some kind of difficulties when learning to read.

Did you know, only 25% of children learn to read without any difficulties? That means 3 in 4 kids are left with some kind of issues when learning to read. The following guide was written for parents of these 3 in 4 kids.

The article is separated into four parts. The theory, possible issues for struggling readers, the recommended exercises and an executable plan.

The following part is for kids, aged 5 to 7 who are learning phonics.

Part 1: Pretend Reading (Kids aged 6 months – 6 years)
Part 3: Blending (Kids aged 5 – 7)
Part 4: Reading (Kids aged 8+)


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Learning to Read Phase 2: Learning Phonics

Children pass on to phase two of the learning process when they are familiar with letters and sounds. They now have to start processing the relationship between those two, as well as the relationship between printed and spoken letters. When the eye sees the letter, the brain has to “hear” it.  The issue with the English language is that the same letter (or a combination of letters) can sound different depending on the position in the word. For example, the letter “o” in “browse” is spoken almost as “a”, while the same letter “o” in “snow” is spoken as “o”. Fluent readers do not think about that or see that as an issue, but for a novice reader, all those rules make no sense. 

Kobi_Confusing English Language
Rules in language make no sense for a beginner reader.

What your child needs to understand:

The goal of this phase is to familiarize your kid with words that follow the phonics’ rules. A child needs to understand the connection between a letter and a sound if those two objects follow the regular rules of English phonics. Generally, the child learns about these rules through instructions. At the end of this phase, the child should be able to read up to 600 simple words and read connected text containing phonetically regular words.

Possible issues for struggling readers:

Phonics is where dyslexic readers really struggle. This basically happens because their brains are wired a bit differently. Struggling readers have difficulties categorizing the sounds in a language and connecting the sounds to letters.

Traditional schooling systems react to these issues by intensifying the work children have to do. The issue is that in most cases simple repetition does not help. Dyslexic children who are learning to read need to find alternative ways of categorizing sounds and making the connections to words and word pairs. 

How to react to reading issues:

If your kid has issues with phonics, the education system will probably want them to study using sight words. This is the wrong way of teaching your dyslexic child to read. 

Kobi_Child Reading with Mom
Build your kid’s phonological awareness.

Instead, you should help your kid increase their phonological awareness. Playing with syllables, words, and rhymes is a good way of doing that. There are tons of useful games that are fun for your kid and will help them increase their phonological awareness. Some of the best ones are listed in the recommended exercises below.

Recommended exercises:

Rhymes

Helps with: Phonological and Phonemic Awareness

Continue playing rhyme games with your kid. These can be very simple games to play in your car or while reading with your kid. Let’s say you are reading a story about a fox. You can easily include rhymes into a story, by asking your kid: “What does rhyme with a fox?” “A box!” and then continue reading the story.

Beat that Drum (Sentence)

Helps with: Segmentation

Help your kid get the feel for sentence segmentation by clapping to each word in a sentence. 

For example: The (clap) fox (clap) saw (clap) a (clap) spider (clap).

This helps your child get familiarized with how the sentences are structured. Alternatively, you can stomp or jump to each word in a sentence to include moving around in the learning to read process.

Kobi_Family_Clapping
Make reading fun through games.

Beat that Drum (Word)

Helps with: Segmentation

The same idea as the one above, but this time you clap for every syllable in a given word. Choose among the familiar words list and slowly pronounce every sound in a word. Ba (clap) na (clap) na (clap). You can easily implement the exercise into the reading part of your day by clapping for certain words in a story. “The fox saw a spider. How many parts does the word spider have? Spi (clap) der (clap). Two!” and move on with the story.

Color-based exercises

Helps with: Segmentation

Color is a great way of separating things for a dyslexic. They might not distinguish between b,p,d and q, but they can categorize colors very quickly. Try using colored objects to separate word sounds. For example, for the word ‘cat’, spell out the sound ‘k’ and point to a green object. Then spell out ‘a’, point to a red object. In the end, spell out ‘t’ and point to a blue object. Your child should then repeat the exercise by pointing to the same objects and spelling out ‘kat’.


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Kobi_Learning to Read: A Comprehensive Guide for Parents

Use Educational Mobile and Web Games

Helps with: Phonological and Phonemic Awareness, Segmentation

There are tons of digital games that focus on phonology. If your child is going to spend time in front of a computer screen, at least give them access to educational games that will help them master words, sounds, and syllables.

PBS Kids: PBS Kids has tons of games that will help your child learn about Phonics and Segmentation. The games are based on Sesame Street with fun characters and flashy graphics, which makes them fun to play for a child who is learning to read. The games are browser-based, so all you need is a laptop with an internet browser and you are ready to go.

Words that Rhyme: Words that Rhyme is a fun game for young, early readers learning about rhymes. In the game, you have to find a word that rhymes (or has the same ending sound) with a word of your choice.

Reading eggs: Helps children recognize sight words. These are the basic words that children learn first. I.e. he, she, the, and so on. We recommend mastering phonics before learning sight words, but a lot of schools will teach phonics and sight words simultaneously, so you will have no chance but to practice both at the same time. With the game, you get access to 100 sight words that a child can learn through gameplay. It is a mobile game, which means it is available for you at any time through your phone.


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Executable Plan

Start putting more focus on rhyme games. You can play in the car on the way to the kindergarten or school as well as at home while you are preparing dinner. Rhymes help familiarize your kid with words and syllables that sound similar. More importantly, they are fun for kids who are learning to read.

Continue reading with your kid and start implementing some of the above-mentioned exercises into the reading time. Focus on one activity at the time. Start by implementing rhymes to the stories. Once your kid gets the hang of it, teach them about the sentence segmentation and proceed to word segmentation. This will help your kid understand that every part of the language is structured in a certain way.

Continue using worksheets or printable resources. Change the difficulty according to your kid’s needs.

When you are busy or want some time for yourself, let your kid play some educational games on your laptop, mobile phone or tablet.

When teaching your kid about the segmentation of the sentences or words, use your known words list. This is a list of words that your kid is familiar with. You can create it yourself by writing down words your kid recognizes or get assistance from their teacher who should have a list of words that your kid is supposed to be acquainted with.

Executable Timetable

10.30 – 11.00 am6.30 – 7.00 pm7.15 – 7.45 pm
MondayReading with your kid + Rhymes or Segmentation GamesColor-based exercises
TuesdayReading with your kid + Rhymes or Segmentation Games
WednesdayReading with your kid + Rhymes or Segmentation GamesEducational Digital Games
ThursdayReading with your kid + Rhymes or Segmentation Games
FridayReading with your kid + Rhymes or Segmentation Games
SaturdayWorksheetsReading with your kid + Rhymes or Segmentation GamesColor-based exercises
SundayWorksheetsReading with your kid + Rhymes or Segmentation GamesEducational Digital Games

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