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How to Teach Phonics to Preschoolers
There are various audio programs that are widely available for educators and mothers to teach their children. More common programs are Letterland, Zoophonics, Ants on the Apples and Jolly Phonics.
With a lack of phonics knowledge, many parents avoid teaching their own children. In this modern era, information is at your fingertips. I believe that parents are the best teachers. Therefore, I am making an extra effort to understand more about phonics in order to personally help my daughter.
I started out knowing nothing about phonics. For my daughter’s sake, I visited audio engineering websites like Starfall and watched videos on YouTube. With a willing heart, nothing was difficult. In fact, I was confident that I would teach my daughter well.
I started with Letterland when my daughter was 2.5 years old. She didn’t really like it. I felt the songs were too difficult to understand at her age. With the different tunes she sang with each alphabet, it was too much for her to remember.
I tried Ants on the Apples after Letterland. The Ants on the Apples program suited my daughter well because the phonics song has a catchy melody with a standard beat. With colorful illustrations and big words, it made teaching and reading easy. It made teaching more systematic because my daughter could point to the words in the book while singing the song. The phrases in the songs were shorter and easier for her to remember.
Ants on the Apples is a wonderful educational tool that I personally like and will highly recommend. I believe your child will love it as well as my daughter. I find the various parts in the book quite hilarious and I can act, sing and dance along with my child. It really is a more fun and interactive experience.
1. Dolls dance (I hold my child’s hands and we dance together)
2. Caterpillar cough (loud cough)
3. Indian itch (we scratch pretending to be very itchy)
The Ants on the Apples program comes in songbook and CD only. As a fan of flash cards, I completed Ants on the Apples with Zoophonics Flash cards. In Zoophonics, each alphabet has an animal with a special name (starting with the alphabet) and an action associated with the animal.
1. Alphabet: A
2. Special name: Allie
3. Animal: Alligator
4. Action: Snap with a two-handed punch
It goes like this, ‘Allie Alligator… air air air followed by fast action.
By including Ants on the Apples and Zoophonics, learning is more fun with music and movement. My girl learns with better understanding.
Some common questions about phonics:
1. Q: Do I have to use the same sound program as the school?
A: I personally don’t think it’s necessary. My little girl uses Jolly phonics at school and I use Ants on apples and Zoophonics. She has no problem because the only difference between the programs is the way of teaching. (Note that the initial sound for ‘a’ in Jolly Phonics is pronounced ‘ar’ instead of ‘air.’)
2. Q: Why is phonics important?
A: Phonics helps your child learn to read and spell. Without this ability, your child cannot be fully literate. Words are like codes, and phonics teaches children how to crack the code for reading. Phonics is therefore an important part of any reading development program.
3. Q: When is the best time to study?
A: Recommended for ages 3 and up. However, parents can help a younger child learn sounds through informal learning.
I can’t claim to be a phonics expert. I simply enjoy the process of learning together with my daughter. There is no right or wrong method. It’s just a matter of preference. The deciding factor will be your child. I am now starting the same phonics methods on my second child with a little more experience and confidence. I will continue to enjoy it because every child is unique!
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