Teaching phonics - the basics

Make the phonics worthwhile

Decoding words is not an end in itself. An analysis of lift-the-flap books showed how the books children read teach them not only about reading but also about learning. When children read meaningful, engaging and playful texts, and when they read widely and discuss what the texts mean for them and their lives, children become adventurous, thoughtful and active readers. They also learn that ‘knowledge is open-ended and the omniscience of the text is limited’.

Similarly, when children are encouraged to write about matters that are important to them and can write freely, using their writing to reach out to the reader and to invite the reader into their world and their thoughts, they become articulate, reflective authors. Unless children are shown how to put their phonic knowledge to powerful use, all will come to nought. As Mark Twain is quoted as saying, ‘Those who don’t read have no advantage over those who can’t.