An attempt to decode Phonics

Reading assessments are very important to check and track a child’s progress and development. To make the concept of assessments in reading simple and easy to understand, we will introduce various components of reading assessments in a four part series. There are many ways to assess a child’s reading abilities. However, there are certain components which are common across all kinds of assessments.

First in the series is phonics.

A basic and important component of reading assessment, Phonics is the study of how sound of words are represented by spelling.Words are made up of small units of sound called phonemes. Phonics teaches children to be able to listen carefully and identify the phonemes that make up each word. This results in better reading ability in children.

A fun fact about phonics is that we have approximately 44 phonic sounds in English language.

A research by London University, 2017 shows that learning to read by sounding out words i.e. phonics has a great impact on a child’s reading fluency and comprehension. Since reading is one of the most important skills acquired in early childhood, it is important we understand the value of #phonics.

According to the Center for the Improvement of Early Reading (CIERA), children who have phonemic awareness skills are likely to have an easier time learning to read and spell than children who have few or none of these skills (National Institute for Literacy, 2003).

Phonics enables reading comprehension by relating visual symbols to spoken language. In a recent study, it was found that children who focus on the meanings of the new words were much less accurate in reading aloud and comprehension than those who used the phonics approach. Their brain worked harder to decipher what they were reading.

We also rounded up some simple tips for teaching phonics:

1. Read out the words loudly to the kids; breaking them into understandable fragments. For example, teach the kid the /r/ sound in the word rat.

2. Keep repeating those words regularly in the same manner.

3. Gradually progress towards more complex words. For example, start teaching the kid the /ou/ sound in the word house.

For proper phonics assessment certain phonics- related skills needs to be measured. Wondering about what these skills are? Well, here is the answer. There are 5 phonics-related skills and they are as under:

1. Phonological and Phonemic awareness: in layman language, phonological awareness refers to the identification and manipulation of various units of spoken language, such as words, syllables etc. and phonemic awareness refers to the ability to focus on and manipulate individual sounds in spoken words. Follow the link and take a free basic phonological awareness test by Phonics Hero.

2. Letter-sound correspondence: a systematic relationship between letters and phonemes to retrieve the pronunciation of the oral words. Try this simple test to assess the relationship .

3. Blending of sounds: the ability to develop words from individual sounds by blending the sounds together in sequence. Like blending sound of c,a,t to form word cat. It can be formed from some nonsense words. Here is the assessment of some nonsense words:

4. Segmenting of Words: Unlike blending, segmenting is the breaking down of words into individual sounds and syllables. A simple test to assess this skill is here.

5. Reading of irregular words: every literacy program has its own way of assessing reading capability of irregular words. Click here for a simple test to assess your reading ability of irregular words.

Stay tuned and check out the next in the series; fluency. We would also love to hear from you about the different techniques you may have used to teach and assess phonics.

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