When Is the Best Time to Introduce Phonics to My Child?

Phonics has become a common buzzword amongst parents in Singapore these days and it doesn’t come as a surprise as phonics has been proven an effective way to teach children how to read and write. However, not every parent grew up with an understanding of phonics. So, what exactly is phonics and how can it benefit children in preschool? When should I start teaching my child phonics as early as nursery or kindergarten

What Is Phonics? 

Phonics help a child to identify the letters in a word and translate each letter or letter cluster into speech sound,” says Ms Karen Wong, Senior Learning Support Facilitator at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital’s Department of Child Development. Through phonics, children learn that there is a relationship between letters and the way they sound and that different letters have different sounds or pronunciations. 

By learning to pronounce the sounds correctly (for example, ‘u’ should be pronounced short ‘oo’ and ‘th’ should be pronounced with the tongue touching the teeth), they will be able to blend the sounds together and read new words effectively. Hence, it’s an excellent way to teach children how to read. 

Why Is It Important for Children to Learn Phonics? 

Phonics, the method of teaching reading by correlating sounds with symbols in an alphabetic writing system, is foundational for developing literacy. Introducing phonics to children, as young as nursery or kindergarten, equips them with the tools necessary for decoding words, which is pivotal for reading fluency and comprehension. 

Research has shown that phonics is more effective than meaning-based approaches, such as the whole-language approach, in improving young children’s reading skills. When children learn how to read using phonics, they will be able to sound out familiar words and predict the pronunciation of unfamiliar words. Early exposure to phonics stimulates cognitive development, enhances vocabulary, and fosters an understanding of language structure.

Benefits Of Teaching Phonics During Preschool Years

During their nursery and kindergarten years, children are naturally curious and have an innate ability to absorb new information, making it an opportune time to introduce the basics of phonics. Engaging preschoolers with phonics helps develop their auditory skills as they learn to associate letters with their corresponding sounds, a critical step towards reading readiness. 

Furthermore, teaching phonics in preschool supports the development of vocabulary and language skills. As children learn to decode words, their ability to understand and use these words in context grows. This not only enhances their communication abilities but also boosts confidence and encourages a positive attitude towards learning. It instils confidence in young learners as they become proficient readers, setting a positive trajectory for their academic journey. 

Through engaging with phonics, children also sharpen their listening skills and attention to detail, traits that are beneficial beyond reading. Hence, incorporating phonics into early childhood education is not merely a stepping stone for reading but a cornerstone for overall educational success.

Conclusion: When Is A Good Time For Phonics?

The best time to introduce phonics to your child depends on their readiness and interest rather than a specific age. Typically, children are ready for phonics between ages 4 to 6, during their nursery and kindergarten years, when they show curiosity about letters and words. Key signs of readiness include recognising letters, being curious about word formation, and showing interest in reading. Engaging in playful, informal learning activities can gently introduce phonics, ensuring these early experiences are positive and pressure-free. Aligning phonics instruction with your child’s developmental stage and interests is crucial for fostering a love for reading.

At Raffles Kidz Singapore, we hone our children’s language and literacy skills, including phonics, through the Montessori Approach. Each child is taught according to their level of ability, which allows them to have a positive learning experience with phonics.

Find out more about our curriculum and visit a Raffles Kidz preschool near you today! 

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp