Is it time to teach your child to read and write?

Teaching Phonics to a Three-Year-Old

By Alexandra Smith

When to start?

As my daughter turned three recently, I decided it was time to teach her how to read and write. She likes books and uses the pictures to tell the story so I think she is ready to read. She has also started to draw recognisable things and say what they are so she can certainly start to copy letters.

How to start?

I don't think I was taught to read using phonics. I just remember sight recognition of key words starting with words like 'cat' and 'dog' but I used Jolly Phonics when I was teaching and that seemed like a fun way to learn.

My plan:

Nb. There are seven sets in the Jolly Phonics series and about six sounds in each set so I will only teach a set at a time and have a few days break in between sets to revise all the sounds and songs in them.

  • Introduce one new poster with its song and action every breakfast time until the set is complete (I think the 'posters' I have are copied from the Jolly Phonics Songs Book). Stick the posters on the kitchen / dining table wall until the whole set is up (remove when starting a new set so there is not an overwhelming amount of information up). Sing all the letter songs of the set learnt so far and do their actions a few times a day.
  • Use capital letter fridge magnets and lowercase bath foam letters. Rather than getting all of them out at once, only give out the relevant letters each day and keep them out until you have finished working on the set. Talk about them, draw them and use them to spell words throughout the day (e.g. on day three of set 1, you can spell 's,' 'a,' 't').
Next steps:

When all seven sets are finished, you may wish to start again and extend by looking for letters in books, trying to learn short sight words and writing different things. Getting a child to recognise their own name and write it is a good thing. You could also label things like the fridge and the freezer. There are obviously plenty of phonics scheme work books which will all claim to be essential but they're not really any better than borrowing appropriate books from the library and having one-to-one daily reading a writing experiences with your child.

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Disclaimer: These tips are created from lessons I have learnt during my own experience.  With regard to the content and advice on this blog, Alexandra Smith makes no representations or warranties about its accuracy, reliability or suitability for anyone. Any reliance you place on the blog or its content is at your own discretion and in no event will Alexandra be liable for any loss, damage or injury in connection with your use.

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