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Overall, teaching children how to read can be a very stressful event for parents. But, there are some simple steps you can use that will help you understand how to best introduce phonics to your child and help them through some hurdles. As a kindergarten teacher who had to teach phonics for beginners, my job was divided into three main tasks:
1. Understand what skills my children had already
2. Understand the skills they needed to master
3. Figure out fun ways to bridge the gap for them
In fact, it’s a pretty straightforward system that I could apply to any subject no matter what time of year my kiddos arrived. When children joined my classroom, one of the first things I determined is if they had the needed phonemic awareness skills that would make them successful readers. Once I knew that information my next task was to find out if they could decode as that is the start of our phonics journey.
What is Decoding?
To summarize, decoding is basically being able to read. When it comes to phonics for beginners, decoding letters is the ability to look at the letter and produce the correct sound. In fact, there are about 44 distinct phonemes (sounds) that children need to master. In order to make things simple, there is a specific letter-sound order you can use to teach your child. Using SATPIN order helps children quickly learn to decode letters and blend to read because of the simple yet powerful order.
Why is Decoding Important in Phonics for Beginners?
When children are able to decode or unlock the code of letter sounds they can then begin to unlock entire words by blending. Without a doubt, children who have a strong basis in letter sounds have an easier time transferring that skill to the next tier which is blending those sounds into words.
However, don’t make the mistake of moving from decoding quickly to blending if your child is not ready. Instead, spend time on this skill and let your child become really confident in their ability to “read” letters or produce letters sounds when they see a letter. There will be time for them to blend later. Above all else, make sure to use activities that are easy for you and fun them so you’re both motivated to keep going.
How Can I Teach my Child How to Decode Letters?
Decoding practice should be done daily. However, when it comes to phonics for beginners, directly teaching a new sound should be no more than 10 min or less depending on the age of your child. For example, things like books, activities, computer games, and physical games are all great ways of helping children master decoding. Overall, the more fun it is, the easier time you’ll have so check out these activities below.
One Last Thing When It Comes to Phonics for Beginners
Lastly, remember that just because your child has the cognitive readiness to learn to decode does not mean their attention span is long, so aim for 10 minutes max! The rest of the learning can be through fun interactive games. There are a million different ways you can teach your child to decode letters.