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I am going to do an assembly to explain what phonics is, how to pronounce the phonemes and how parents can help their children at home.
Has anyone done anything like this? Can you help?
Bear in mind that the parents of the children may have been taught using a phonics approach and, if not, their grandparents are likely to be familiar with the concept.
Apart from a brief period during the 1970s and 80s when some schools ditched traditional methods in favour of, a 'look and say' approach and 'real books', most teachers have used some form of phonics to help children attack unfamiliar words and learn to read.
One good way into the subject is to establish the difference between the name, and the sound, of a letter. Although this distinction may be obvious, it is often forgotten.
So, for example, the letter 'd' is named 'dee'. The letter 'o' is named 'oe' and the letter 'g' is named 'gee'.
However, when we see a dog, we don't say: "Oh, look, there's a dee-oe-gee." If we have a cat, we don't call it a see-ae-tee. This gets across to parents that, firstly, it is important to distinguish the name of a letter from the sound it makes.
The next stage, is to explain that it is important to make the sound of the letter correctly if their child is going to be able to blend the letter sounds together. So it's better to pronounce 'd' softly without vocalising it as 'di' or you end up with something that sounds like 'di-o-gi' or 'ci-a-ti'.
Most parents can see the humour in this and will sometimes admit they had never really thought about that being a problem for children. This leads on to how children blend the individual letter sounds into words or 'synthetic phonics' - the blending of sounds together.
Before covering 'phonemes' (different groups of letters that sound the same), it might be better to introduce 'digraphs' (two letters that make one sound). If you use the technical names, it's useful to give a simple explanation that they are taken from the Ancient Greek words for voice/sound and writing, still used today in English in words such as 'telephone' and 'graph'.
It may be worth mentioning that the way our language, and spelling, has developed over hundreds of years is complicated and not always logical. Unfortunately, children just have to learn phemomes such as 'ae' and 'ay', 'oe' and 'ough' etc if they are to learn to read. It takes time but we can all adjust to variations in spelling.
For example, prepare a sign with the words Ye Olde Inne on it and see if the parents can read it and make sense of what it means. The chances are they will know exactly what it means despite the unusual spellings from early english. The letter 'e' has today been dropped from our spelling of old and inn and what looks like the letter 'Y' is actually the medieval letter 'thorn' (literally a twig with a thorn on the side which was later replaced with the digraph 'th').
Finally, it's important to remember that some sounds, and words, will be pronounced differently in different parts of the UK, and elsewhere, so we need to be sensitive to accent, and dialect, variations.
Hopefully, some of this may help. Good luck.
Or even phonemes.
I run a yearly 'phonics school' for parents an informal yet informative session where I explain phonics (Letter and Sounds) but we also play some games and sing songs, share you tube alphabet songs etc to show some fun things to do at home. It has been praised by parents and is a great way to get to know each other. I also run drop ins to top up parents phonic knowledge as Phases progress.
Hope this helps
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