Thursday 8 March 2012

Help Your Child Learn Single Letter Phonemes

Here are some things I am doing with Garden Boy and did with Garden Girl, to familiarise them with the single letter phonemes. Getting them to practice saying, writing and recognising the sounds when they don't even realise they are doing work is the best way of getting them to learn them.

  • Teach them to write their name. Start with the first letter. But don't get them to write it over and over again for no reason. When they write thank you cards for Christmas or birthday gifts get them to write the first letter of their name inside the card. You can finish the name off for them so they start to recognise what their name looks like written down. Ask them to write their name on any drawings or paintings they do at home, so everyone who looks at it will know who made the brilliant picture. Again, start with the first letter and then when they are confident with that, add more letters.
  • Add letters which are special to them. After learning the first letter of his name, Garden Boy learned to write 'W' and 'B' because he wanted to be able to write 'Woody' and 'Buzz'. If they draw pictures of the same things over and over again teach them the letters of those words. For example, Garden Girl drew endless pictures of butterflies and Tinkerbell, so 'B' and 'T' were two of the first letters she learned. You can probably make any letter special to your child by picking the right word for them.
  • If your children like a particular kind of food get them to add it to the shopping list themselves. Initially you will have to tell them the letters and show them how to the draw the letters, but if they copy it enough times they will soon learn. It is a great incentive to write letters and words, if by doing so you will remember to buy those ice lollies, lemon cakes, meatballs or strawberries. Again, start with the first letter and over time, move them on to writing the full word.
  • Get them to write letters and words during general play. For instance, if you are playing cafe's get them to be the waitor/waitress. They should write a T for every tea order, a C for every coffee order, a J for a juice order, a B for every biscuit order and a S for a slice of cake. You can have all the letters written nearby for them to copy if they need it and as they become proficient writers change it to the full word.
  • When you are reading books with your children get them to look for things in the pictures and then find the word in the text yourself and sound it out to them. Show them, with your finger, the sounds as you are saying them. It will help them get used to how sounds are blended together to make words.
  • Get older siblings or friends to read to younger ones if they are willing. Garden Girl loves reading to Garden Boy and Garden Lass, and Garden Boy picked up the phonic method of sounding out and blending this way. He also learned most of the single letter phonemes this way. This worked well for Garden Boy because Garden Girl is just one year ahead so was still at the stage of sounding out and blending every word, but even if the gap is bigger, this sharing of books with other children is a great way of developing an interest in and love of books.
  • Play phonic i-spy. Using the phonic sound of objects, rather than the letter name is a great way of getting them to think of things beginning with that sound.
  • When we are out for long walks and I want to keep them interested we will often play 'Spot the...' We take it in turns to spot a tree, or a red car, or a yellow flower etc but I always throw some letters and numbers in. It only really works on urban walks but with all the street signs, road signs, posters, bill boards, shop signs etc, there are plenty of opportunities around to spot letters and numbers.

Are there any games or activities you do that get your children reading or writing words and letters?

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