Introduction to Jolly Phonics for Children
Synthetic phonics, being the method used with Jolly Phonics for children, is the most widely used type of phonics. This is often regarded as the “best” type of phonics when used to teach children. This type of phonics focuses on the individual sounds for letters and blending words, which is why it is the most taught Phonics.
The reason for this is its proven track record and being deemed the most effective for teaching young children the foundation of phonics, which is important for parents when teaching English to their kids. This is especially true for children as learning English as a second language, as it covers the foundation of English phonics and allows children to piece together sounds and letters to create words.
Background of synthetic phonics
Synthetic phonics has been developed with the aim of buildings students understanding of words from the ground up, and blending together each sound piece by piece to form words. This type of phonics is especially true for beginners and prevalent in Jolly Phonics. Synthetic phonics first teaches students each sound of the alphabet and moves onto
Digraphs, or two letters that spell one sound. This includes both long vowel combinations and consonant sounds. The most common vowel digraphs being ai, ay, ee, ea, ie, y, oa, ow, ue, ew, oi, oy, au, aw. The most common consonant digraphs would be sh, th, wh, ck, ph, ng. Together with the single letter sounds and the digraphs, students would learn how to combine these to form words, or use these rules to decode words into sounds and the meaning of each word. This is the most common form of phonics taught over the world, and the most common type of this is Jolly Phonics for children.
What is Jolly Phonics?
Jolly phonics helps students learn phonics in a fun and child centered way with lots of actions and multi-sensory methods for each sound. This type of phonics uses 42-letter sounds for teaching rather than the traditional alphabet. It attributes an action to each sound to help students learn them from an early age, at first mimicking the actions for each sound, and later learning to attribute these sounds to the letters and for each word.
This type of phonics motivates students and teachers to have fun while learning the sounds, and is great for the development of young children when learning how to read with Jolly phonics.
How does Jolly Phonics work?
Children are taught the basic 26 letter sounds and a further 16 digraphs for the long vowels and consonant within the English. They combine these with actions, such as pretending to hit a drum for “d,d,d” or slither like a snake for “s,s,s”, to help students attribute the sounds and the actions at first.
Teachers can also incorporate these actions into story books to encourage students to read and is also a fun way to tell a story. The idea is that with the understanding of reach sound, the students will learn how to blend together words and eventually be able to read on their own. It can be an added benefit to add cute or interesting cartoon animals for young children, to drive home the point of fun learning in the classroom with this type of Jolly Phonics.
There are some difficulties when implementing this type of phonics, as it can rely heavily on the teachers, and how they teach the sounds and encourage the children in each lesson. Some teachers only teach the sound without incorporating much blending, or some do not know how to blend each sound properly. This type of style should be incorporated with introducing new words and basic reading, and slowly guide the students to link the letters and sounds to reading new words. Otherwise, the students may make a habit of only learning the sounds and actions and find difficulties when blending these sounds into words on their own.
What are the skills taught in Jolly Phonics?
As Jolly Phonics’s foundation is on the main sounds and digraphs, it focuses on learning letter sounds and blending sounds together to make words. It also helps decode sounds into words, which improves the understanding of spelling, which is helpful for students when learning phonics. There are five main skills which Jolly Phonics focus on which are learning the letter sounds, learning letter formation, blending, identify the sounds in words (decoding) and learning tricky words. Each are explained further in more detail.
Learning the Letter sounds
As it’s name suggests, the students are taught the letter sounds for the alphabet and also the digraphs and advances sound combination for phonics. This included not only the 26 letters of the alphabet but also the long vowel combinations and consonant blends for students. This introduces all the sounds to the students, so that they can grasp the language and slowly understand putting together sounds.
For younger students or student who find learning each sound hard, Jolly Phonics also introduces an action for each sound of the alphabet, to help the student learn better. This incorporates each to remember actions such as moving your hand like a snake and saying “ssssss” or rubbing your tummy and saying the “mmmmmmm” noise. There is an action for each word to help students learn and also provide a fun and interactive way to teach. Gradually the teachers should move the emphasis away from the actions to identify the sounds to the letter to identify the sounds of each word and improve reading.
Learning letter formation
Together with the sounds of each letter, the students learn letter formation with matching each to a particular sound, and learning how to write the letters. Learning how to write each letter can greatly depend on the level of the student and willingness to learn each letter. Most techniques use basic tracing and repetition to help the students remember the sound and muscle memory for how to write the letters. This is also a key skill to learn for students to hold a pencil properly and also helps them in colouring and patience when using a pencil, if they have difficulties at first.
Blending with Jolly Phonics
The next step is putting together these sounds to form words, and how to write the letter for each word. They can use their knowledge from what they learned and apply this when putting together sounds. They can say each sound slowly at first, and then speed up to say the word faster and faster to form the word. Once they have identified which word they created, they can repeat the word for better memory.
Try to blend easier 3 letter words, as consonant-vowel-consonant or CVC for easier blends such as c-a-t, t-o-p, b-u-s, d-e-n. Once the student has a strong foundation for blending CVC words well, you can move onto 4 letter words with 4 sounds or with a vowel or consonant blend with 3 sounds. Most students learn best in 3s, so try to use this rule of thumb for the most effective teaching.
Most Joly phonics can apply to words, so this can be fun for students to use what they learned and apply it to everyday words they see on the street or in their books. Of course to help solidify their memory, they should have the support of their parents and teachers to encourage them to blend sounds and learn words everyday!
Identify the sounds in words(decoding)
Another skill that is learned from phonics is identify the sounds in a word when listening. This can be hard for students at first, especially if their vocabulary is limited, as you need to hear to people speaking English and try to listen to the sounds in the words. Focusing on this skill will help the students to greatly improve their spelling.
You can start by using words they already know and say each sound to see whether they can understand you or not. You may also speak new words very slowly while emphasizing each sound for students in order for them to identify the sounds. Eventually the students should try to listen to English at a near normal pace, as this is what they will hear in day to day life and things they see on TV or in movies.
Every language has it’s exceptions and tricky irregular words. For these words the rules of phonics do not apply and may confuse the students more as they will try to use their phonics to blend this word. For these words you need to inform the students that these are weird or exceptional words, and they need to be memorized separately.
Sometimes these words can be uncommon words or often used words, as in the case of “friends”. This common word does not apply to basic phonics rules, and often have younger students stumble to pronounce this if they have never seen it before. This and other tricky words need to be taught separately to help bolster the students understanding of words and sentences.