Jolly Phonics, an effective method to teach literacy to Young Learners

When children do not learn to read, the reason for their lack of success can almost always be attributed to the method of teaching used. By starting with whole-word memorising and not with the alphabetic code, the children who have poor visual memories feel that reading is hard and that they cannot do it.

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Even with a little phonic knowledge, for example knowing only the alphabet sounds, they stumble along guessing and hoping that they have said the right words. Good readers use their code knowledge including knowledge of the digraphs for reading. Good readers do not look at the picture, or the initial letter, neither do they guess from the context for word identification, but poor readers do, and it lets them down all the time.

Teaching with synthetic phonics from the beginning is best for all children, even for the children who might manage without it. This latter group of children will simply learn to read much faster than they would have done without synthetic phonics. A synthetic-phonics approach also ensures that a child with a good visual memory, but poor ear for the sounds in words, learns in the correct way: by synthesizing sounds and not by memorising words.

Memorising words might be relatively easy in the early stages for certain children, but at some point their memories will run out. If the skill of decoding words has not been taught by then, these children will develop reading problems. This is particularly distressing for the children affected, because they may have been considered good readers in the early stages, but now that the books have longer words and more text, they suddenly find that they cannot cope.

Implementing Jolly Phonics at the preparatory and the first grades of the Primary level is a must in Romanian schools to achieve better and faster results in literacy.

Julieta Petre – Jolly Learning trainer

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