Sunday, 29 December 2013

Phonics Activities

At what age a child should start reading?  Even though it is better if she start reading by 6 years, it purely depends upon the individual child. Experts say it may occur at the age between 4 years and 11 years.
 During my primary education, we learnt English alphabets only at the age of 7.  We were taught to memorize the spelling and the previous night of the English dictation days, I used to lose my sleep.  OMG, those old hard days…..So, I started reading only at the age of 10. 

Our language Tamil has a wonderful vowel set, it has letters for almost all the sounds.  But in English, there are only 5 letters in the vowel set. Moreover, the names and sound of English alphabets are different like letter ‘B’ (‘bi) makes the sound ‘bah’. Hence, initially it is really difficult for a child to read or write even if she knows all the alphabets.

Teaching kids the phonics is really a tough job when the names of the alphabets are introduced first. In most of the schools here, the alphabets are introduced not in any particular order. It is neither in the order easy to write nor in the order easy to read. My girl was introduced to the alphabets in a regular order by their names.

I really worried how to teach her the phonics.  I started with her name as most of the experts suggest. “Do you know which letter makes the sound ‘Jah’ as in your name ‘janani’?  It is ‘jjjjjjanani..Letter J.” Then I started telling her the first letters of names of our family members and friends. It’s worked.

 This is how our conversation goes,
“Janu, the first letter of your dad is ‘sssss saravanan’ Letter S.”
 “ Pattu, can u tell me the first letter of vinoth mama?”
“vivivi vinoth mama. Letter V”
“ What is the first letter of your friend Ajitha?”
“ Aah aah ajitha. ‘A’, A for Akshaya, Arjun”.
What is the first letter of ‘Sindhu Aunty?”
“ cccc sindhu Aunty. Letter C" (She pronounced the name of the letter)
“No.  its sssssindhu.  Letter S.”

I am very happy that she is showing the reading readiness now. 
As a continuation of these phonics activities, we had some more activities like small quizzes, alphabet Sound tray and object sorting.
For phonics quiz, I’ll ask,” which word starts with the letter ‘M’? Whether it is Monkey or donkey?” (I would stress the first letter to help her).

We had the miniature sets of animals, insects, reptiles, water animals… and I like to use them in alphabet object tray.  Here is our alphabet object tray for letter ‘B’.

If I don’t have any miniature, I’ll try to make them in my own using clay or paper.  Here, is some of my handmade miniature clay fruit set. I didn't bake it or boil it for long term use.  I don’t have patience. Instead, I can make it whatever I want within a minute. It’s so simple and my child also loves to create some of her own. No matter how it turns out.

I used to collect the old school books of our neighborhood children as we cannot buy those books in stores. My child love to name the pictures found in those books.  It doesn't matter how many books she owns, she loves those old books too. I cut pictures from some of those old books which we cannot use even more. I used to show the pictures, ask her to name it and ask the first letter of it.  To make it even more interesting for her, I asked her to paste those pictures in a small card after sorting it. (She loves to play with glue).  Here is our alphabet cards for Letter B,L and S.

One important think I want to share is I never drill my child in these activities.  It won’t continue for more than 10 minutes.  I never disturb her when she is in playful mood.  I want it to be child centric and I always do it the way she likes it.  According to me a child should not know that we are teaching her.  Instead, she should think she is playing something very interesting and mamma is entertaining her in a meaningful way.