Phonics & Decoding
December 31, 2013
What is Phonics & Decoding?
Phonics is a form of instruction to cultivate the understanding and use of the alphabetic principle, that there is a predictable relationship between phonemes (the sounds in spoken language) and graphemes, the letters that represent those sounds in written language and that this information can be used to read or decode words. Decoding is the method or strategy that a person uses to decipher a group of letters into a known word or phrase.
What it feels like to me: A child’s perspective
When a child has a difficulty or frustration, they are usually unable to express what is causing this feeling. Instead they may say, “I hate this!“, “It’s stupid!“, or they may avoid the task all together. Those few children who are able to express themselves often tell me:
- I don’t know how to sound out these words.
- It takes me so long to sound out the words in this sentence, that I forget what I’ve already read.
- I know my letters and sounds, but I just can’t read these words.
- I just seem to get stuck when I try to read a lot of the words in this chapter.
What I see at home: A parent’s perspective
Here are some clues for parents that a child may be having reading difficulties as a result of his or her phonics and decoding:
- She reads very slowly, often stumbling and struggling with words.
- He often gets stuck while reading and I end up telling him most of the words.
- Saying “sound it out” to her just seems to get her more frustrated.
- He’s not able to understand much of what he reads because he spends so much time sounding out the words.
- She often guesses at words based on the first letter or two. The words she chooses make no sense in the sentence.
What I see in the classroom: A teacher’s perspective
Here are some clues for teachers that a child may be having reading difficulties as a result of his or her phonics and decoding:
- She has difficulty matching sounds and letters.
- He has trouble reading and spelling phonetically.
- She guesses at words based on the first letter or two.
- He has great difficulty spelling words with short vowel sounds and letter patterns that I have already taught.
- She has a lot of difficulty with phonics based activities.
- He has difficulty recognizing letter patterns when he is reading, even though they have been taught numerous times.