Phonics in Early Years

The big question - should phonics be taught not only in Pre-Schools but across all early years' settings?

Phonics is a method that teaches children to read by pronouncing sounds rather than the letters and recognising the relationship between sounds and letters for example children will be learning that the letter 'A' has the sound of 'a' like in the word (a)pple. Although research has proven that children who have been taught to read using this technique are overall achieving "very high" results in early years there is still a lot of mixed views around this particular style of teaching.

Teaching children to read using phonics starts in pre-school, although many people are stating that this should be taught across the board in all nurseries and all early years settings; but does this deter away from child led learning? Many argue that toddlers should be learning to play, share and in general be working on their social skills rather than being taught to read. On the other hand many professionals will declare that the first phase of phonics in very early years is very playful and is based around games, songs and activities and if it is taught well children will generally enjoy their phonics lessons.

The mixed views on this teaching technique do lead me to ask questions such as 'if phonics is the best way to teach children in early years how to read, then why is it a strategy that is only implemented in Pre-School's at the moment? Is it because it doesn't suit all children's needs or because it is not necessary before pre-school?

I wanted to get a first hand opinion on this subject so I spoke to Miss Ihsan, a teacher in a pre-school within the Norfolk area who is currently teaching Phonics in her early year's class. She had this to say -

"I 100% agree that Phonics should be introduced in Nurseries and Parents should be encouraging this at home also. The reason I believe in this way of learning to read is because it allows children to decode sounds and blend them together using analytical and problem solving skills to make sense of unfamiliar words. These skills are used everywhere in all walks of life so it teaches them very early on. Overall in my opinion this is an excellent approach."

So how young is "too young" for children to be learning to read, do you agree that teaching phonics could be potentially harmful for their development in their very early years, or alternatively do you agree that if it is taught in the correct playful way that this can only be beneficial?

Is phonics a lesson that you are currently teaching? Or are you an early year's practitioner that agrees or disagrees with it being implemented in settings other than pre-schools? If so, we would love to hear your thoughts on this or even any hints and tips that you can pass on to other teachers working with children in the EYFS.

Reading log books are a great way to work together with parents to monitor a child's reading progress. Our reading logs have been designed to allow you enough space to write down all necessary information you will need. 

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