Phonics - Reading's Key Ingredient
By Kevin Broadwater
Phonics is the key ingredient in the reading recipe. Phonics is as important to reading as cheese is to a grilled cheese sandwich. Have you ever had a grilled cheese sandwich without the cheese? I had one when I was a kid. When you bite into the sandwich you can tell it is lacking a little something or more like a lot of something.
Leaving phonics out of the reading recipe is like leaving the cheese out of a grilled cheese sandwich. You can still eat the sandwich even without the cheese. Likewise, you can still learn to read even without incorporating phonics. However, a grilled cheese sandwich that includes the cheese is going to be much more complete, enjoyable, and filling than a grilled cheese sandwich without the cheese. In a similar manner, a child that is taught phonics is going to have more success with reading than a child that is not taught phonics.
Phonics is a system that teaches children to associate specific sounds with specific letters or combinations of letters. Words are composed of a single sound or some combination of sounds. Recognizing letter patterns and associating the appropriate sounds allows a child to sound out complete words. This of course includes words that the child has never seen before. Without knowing phonics, that same student would be unable to sound out any new word that appears in the text.
A number of years ago, I took a course called Cognitive Science as an elective in the Computer Science curriculum at the local university. Cognitive Science is basically the study of how the mind works. Understanding how young minds develop is very important to the study of Cognitive Science. Therefore, my professor was often sharing information with the class regarding how babies, infants, and children obtain knowledge. I enjoyed the class very much and learned many fascinating things including the effectiveness and importance of children learning phonics.
Since that time, I have made observations that have confirmed for me how important phonics is to helping children become successful readers. Parents have more opportunities than ever to obtain phonics learning systems that their kids can use at home. These systems include various combinations of printed media, audio media, video media, and software. Parents can purchase one of these kits to give children a head start before starting school, to supplement what the child is learning in school, or both.
If you are a parent or some other important person in the life of a child, don't forget the cheese on the sandwich and please don't forget the phonics.
Kevin Broadwater is the founder of Calculator Hut Company, a developer of educational software. Download free educational software at http://www.calculatorhut.com/ today.