You may not know this about me, but one of the reasons I pulled my boys from public school was my dissatisfaction with the way they’re teaching kids how to read now. I have literally seen it set kids up to be unable to spell or sound out difficult words. Of course, my boys were both already reading when they started kindergarten, but you know that scene in To Kill a Mockingbird where Scout’s teacher has a hissy fit because Scout hasn’t learned to read from the school?
Well, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but the lessons on how to read with sight words and all the other rigamarole confused them, for sure.
Y’all, reading is too important to risk that way.
The benefits of phonics
I taught my boys to read with simple phonics and have never been disappointed in the long-term results. The ability to sound out new words, recognize pronunciation rules, and the resultant ability to spell well are well worth using the old-school method to teach your precious little ones to read.
Teaching phonics involves teaching the English alphabetic system. It shows kids the relationship between sounds and letters. That may sound simplistic to you, but once your child understands the basic phonics rules, he will be able to read perfunctorily without stressing over memorizing several words each week by sight.
When your child learns phonics, he automatically memorizes words as he gets better at reading. Plus, it helps him master reading more quickly at a higher level than memorization.
Mastering phonics also means learning spelling rules. As you teach your child phonics, you’re not just teaching her to read but setting the foundation for her to understand the rules of spelling. And every homeschooling mama loves 2-for-1 lessons, right?
Another reason I prefer phonics as a teaching method is that it allows your child to utilize her brain to make deeper connections than rote memorization does.
We’re homeschoolers, we want deeper connections in All The Things.
The tools for teaching phonics
What do you need to teach phonics? Not much. Here are some of my favorite tools to help you teach your kiddos how to read fluently in record time.
Knowledge of the 44 sounds in the English language. And you can grab this free printable to help you remember.
Also, I’m loving this list of chart ideas from We Are Teachers to help you teach those sounds to your kids.
A good phonics program.
Not only is Blumenfeld’s system easy to use, his philosophy on reading is very similar to my own. In other words, he believes that children should be taught the relationship between sounds and letters so that they can read all words forever.
Because of that philosophy, Alpha-Phonics offers all sorts of helpful tools to supplement the book (which totally includes a teacher’s manual and lesson plan, and you can’t beat that with a stick).
Start with the Alpha-Phonics blog, where Peter Watt shares tons of language history and educational advice. Not only will you be entertained for hours, you’ll have some cool new stuff to teach your kids.
Then take a look at the catalog of videos that not only give advice on teaching phonics but explain why phonics works better than other methods.
What I love about Alpha-Phonics is that even the teacher’s manual is easy to read and use. It divides the program up into quick, simple lessons you can do at your child’s pace.
The lessons are typed in large print and can be used beyond just phonics lessons. They also make great spelling lists and copywork for handwriting. There’s even a cursive writing alphabet in the back of the book.
So 3-for-1, mama. Yeah yeah.
Early readers for them to practice on.
Alpha-Phonics offers early readers to go with their program, and you should totally include them in your child’s lessons.
But you want your little one to get all the book exposure possible, right? Don’t be afraid to supplement your phonics program with fun early readers to engage your child further.
This set of 100 early reader books from Scholastic is a perfect partner for Alpha-Phonics and the Alpha-Phonics Readers. With so many books to choose from, you’re sure to find several that interest your child and make her want to read.
If you’re looking for something a little more popular and mainstream, try Pete the Cat’s Super Cool Reading Collection.
Want something pinker? Get the Pinkalicious Phonics Box with 12 books that will give your kiddo plenty of practice.
How to teach reading with phonics
Teaching with phonics isn’t hard, especially if you have a great system like Alpha-Phonics to follow.
- Make sure you have all your materials–your phonics program, flashcards, charts, or other visuals, and practice books.
- Teach the vowel and consonant sounds, working for at least 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Follow your program’s guidelines.
- Teach 2-letter blends and 3-letter blends
- Teach dipgraphs (two consonants that form a new sound when combined) and consonant blends
- Teach dipthongs (two vowels that form a new sound when combined)
- Introduce homonyms and other spelling exceptions
You’ll be surprised by how quickly your child is recognizing words in books and even able to read simple sentences when you’re using a phonics program, but you’ll be even more pleased with the long-term results of starting them out with phonics.
We’re creating lifelong readers here, y’all. We need to start them out right.