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How on earth does phonics work? I'm struggling...

(35 Posts)
lindsell Sat 22-Sep-12 20:48:42

I learnt to read as a child with 'look and say' and I know that the dc will learn through phonics. Ds1 is 3.5 (starts school sept 2013) and is really keen on letters and I want to make sure that I don't teach him the 'wrong' thing but I'm really struggling to understand how phonics works. Before he starts school I'd like to have been able to acquire a reasonable knowledge of how it works myself so I can help him.

I've got some books that talk about the main letter sounds (many of which seem v similar and hard to distinguish to me) but I just don't understand how they are combined to actually read. I was a very early & fluent reader but still at the age of 30 I can't work this out blush

Can anyone recommend a good parents guide/simple explanation/YouTube videos or similar to help me understand so I can help support ds1 properly (and not feel quite so stupid)

Thank you smile

Rosebud05 Sat 22-Sep-12 21:32:50

Have a look at the Alphablocks on the CBBies website. This has the correct phonics pronunciation of all the letters.

prettydaisies Sat 22-Sep-12 21:39:15

I don't know any videos, but think about playing I spy with someone who can't read, so you have to forget what the word looks like. Phonics uses the sounds that you can hear. House begins with 'huh', but try not to say the 'uh' bit on the end. The sound is not 'aitch'. Ceiling begins with a 'sss' sound, not see.
Going back to house, the 2nd sound is ow and lastly s. Children are taught to say the sounds and then blend them together to make the word.
English is complicated because there are about 44 sounds, but only 26 letters, so some sounds are made by putting 2 or more letters together. We also have lots of ways of writing the same sound, e.g. ay, ai a-e, ey etc and some combinations of letters make different sound depending on the word they are in, e.g. Bread and cream. The 'ea' spelling says 2 different things.

ohdarcy Sat 22-Sep-12 21:39:52

If you learn to read by phonics you are learning the component sounds and then running them together so d - o - g makes dog (say sounds seperately so say the d like in dog not 'dee' the o like it sounds in the word not 'oh' etc). Alphablocks really good. If you have an iphine there are phonics apps too.

drcrab Sat 22-Sep-12 21:47:04

You can try reading eggs on the computer or iPhone as app. Brilliant stuff. My DS who's just started reception this year started to do bits of it half a year ago and is pretty addicted. smile

Tgger Sat 22-Sep-12 22:47:20

Go to Read Write Inc and find the phonics powerpoint presentation, it says the sounds for you. THis was recommended to us by the Reception teacher. Job done!
www.oup.com/oxed/primary/rwi/forparents/- see bottom right of page.

lindsell Sun 23-Sep-12 18:55:12

Thanks all - you see I can do the individual sounds (just about) it's the blending that just leaves me confused because to me 'duh ooh guh' (I've prob got that wrong) does not sound like 'dog' confused

The alphablocks site does look quite good thanks so I'll watch a few episodes with ds1 - we can learn together grin

tgger I couldn't find the presentation you meant but I'll have a proper look at the site as looks like it might be helpful.

I'll also have a look at the reading eggs thanks.

Any ideas for books that explain the whole thing?

mrz Sun 23-Sep-12 19:00:20

Don't say duh ooh guh because they aren't the sounds in English you need to make pure sounds d-o-g www.focusonphonics.co.uk/sound.htm

exoticfruits Sun 23-Sep-12 19:09:00

I don't think you can do better for simplicity than this Phonics for free-written for the parent with no knowledge.

teacherwith2kids Sun 23-Sep-12 19:12:04

As a parent in the same position, I bought the Jolly Phonics teacher's book, and found it very informative (and then found that DS had taught himself to read already, but that's beside the point).

exoticfruits Sun 23-Sep-12 19:23:06

The best thing about Mona McNee is that she isn't making money out of it-she has the website for free. It is a bit old fashioned but it works.

eatyourveg Sun 23-Sep-12 19:35:07

I did letterland with my three - does it not exist anymore? It was fab for phonics and teaching them how to write too

mrz Sun 23-Sep-12 19:48:52

Yes Letterland still exists
Dippy Duck Oscar Orange Golden Girl hmm

simpson Sun 23-Sep-12 20:06:05

Sorry for high jack but how do you decode more complex words like could, would, should, straight and thought/through???

DD has just started reception and seems to be very strong in her phonics and has self taught herself a good chunk of them (although admittedly in the wrong order). But as her reading improves (she is starting to read short, basic chapter books) but has not been shown how to decode harder words and has not had phonics lessons in reception yet and is starting to get frustrated.

I would like her to learn them phonetically rather than by sight if that makes sense....

Mashabell Sun 23-Sep-12 20:10:26

The main problem with phonics is that in many of the most common words phonics does not work (any, many, one, other, only).

It works well with regular spellings, like 'a fat cat sat on a mat'.
The final aim of reading instruction remains to learn to recognise all common words by sight instantly. Phonics is just a stage towards it.

The first stage of learning to read is learning the main sounds for the main English spellings, as in:

A, a-e, ay (cat; plate, play) air/are (hair, care) ar (car); au, -aw, -all (all, sauce, saw, all);
b (bed);
C, ck, k (c/at/ot/ut, comic, crab/ clap; pick, pocket; kept/ kite, seek, risk)
Ch, -tch (chat, catch); d (dog);
E (end); ea/ ee, --y (eat, eel, funny), er/ir/ur (her, bird, turned),
F, G, H (fish, garden, house);
I, i-e, -ie, -igh, -y (ink, bite, tie, high, try);
J, -dge, -ge (jug, bridge, oblige); L, M, N, ng (lips, man, nose, ring) 38
O, wa, qua, (pot, want, quarrel), O-e, -o, ol (bone, so; old),
Oi, -oy (coin, toy), Oo (food, good),
Or, -ore, war, quar (order, more, wart, quarter),
Ou, -ow (out, now); P, Qu, R (pin, quick, run),
S, -ce, -cy (sun, face, emergency);
Sh, -ti-, -ci- (shop, station, cautious, facial, musician),
T, -te (tap, delicate), Th (this thing),
U, u-e, -ue, -ew (up, cube, cue, new)
V, -ve, -v- (van, have, river – no doubling),
W, -x, Y- (window, fix, yes);
Z, -se (zip, wise),
-si-, -su- (vision, treasure)

This looks better with the graphemes (single letters or combinations of them used for a sound), but I can't do that on here.

Masha Bell

hihohiho Sun 23-Sep-12 20:12:57

find out what scheme the school he will be attending uses, other wise he is going to get confused, and dont rush, DS1 could read at 2.5 (honestly), ds2 is 4.5 and not in the slightest bit interested, they will get there.

I love letterland, but I believe most schools use Jollu Phonics these days.

meditrina Sun 23-Sep-12 20:14:26

Phonics does work.

In teaching the code, it is made explicit that some sounds can be written more than one way and that some letters/groups of letters indicate more than one sound.

mummytime Sun 23-Sep-12 20:29:48

If you look at something like phono graphix it will explain more. Almost all English words can be decoded from sounds, but some letters encode for more than one sound.

mrz Sun 23-Sep-12 20:35:05

The problem is masha keeps making up her own graphemes ...
and yes phonics works

hihohiho I don't actually know any schools who use Jolly Phonics now although lots did up to a few years ago. Many use Letters & Sounds because it's free (even though there are no resources and less training) and lots use RWI because it is high profile but there are many excellent programmes which are less well known.

hihohiho Sun 23-Sep-12 20:36:20

They all use it here (well all the ones ds and friends are in).

I don't like it so far.

mrz Sun 23-Sep-12 20:44:52

We used it for 16 years (much prefer it to Letterland) We now use Sounds-Write.

simpson Sun 23-Sep-12 20:48:04

My DC school have just started using jolly phonics but then follow it up with biff and kipper which does not help...

mrz Sun 23-Sep-12 20:51:31

I think the fact that some schools continue to use Look & Say shows they
don't understand phonics
aren't committed to teaching phonics well

I think it's important especially in the very early stages that children have appropriate books to develop their skills.

Tiggles Sun 23-Sep-12 20:59:20

OP, I found when trying to learn phonics that it was easiest to try and hear how a phonic (phoneme?) should sound by listening to the sound at the end of a word, e.g. it isn't muh but mmmm, fuh is more like fffff, huh is more breathy like hhhhh (breathing out), tuh is a bit lighter just touching your tongue off your mouth and making a t sound without the uh afterwards etc.
So then when you blend dog, rather than having duh oh guh, you have d-o-g. As you say the sounds quicker together eventually you say them quick enough to sound like dog.
I think and could be wrong, but it is how I sort phonics in my own head, that when people use muh for example rather than mmmm, it is because they are thinking about a word like mum, and running the first two phonemes together (the mmm and uh) to make a muh sound, iyswim.

mrz Sun 23-Sep-12 21:10:25

It's quite difficult to say pure sounds (some harder than others) which is why we add that extra "uh" but it's important to try to be as pure as possible

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