Phonics Rules For Learning to Read
Do You Really Need to Teach the Rules of Phonics to Kids?
Ah... rules - something that's certain to put a child to sleep better than any bedtime story or lullaby. When it comes to learning to read through phonics, there are numerous rules that can be taught. Note here, that the operative word I used was "can" and I did not say "should" be taught.
In fact, it's probably somewhat counter-productive to try to teach all these different rules to a child - it could easily end up being confusing and cause both the teacher and child unnecessary headaches!
This is because you DO NOT need to teach the rules for phonics to help children learn to read! Children can develop superb phonetic reading skills without learning the rules of phonics. I know, because I've successfully taught children as young as 2 years old to read. Can you imagine trying to teach all these confusing rules to a 2, 3, 4, or even a 5 or 6 year old child? In any case, let's take a look at some of these rules below.
English Phonics Rules Chart for Kids
- The vowels are A, E, I, O, U, and Y can be both a consonant and a vowel.
- There is a vowel contained in every word.
- Vowels can be "long" or "short". How to determine whether a vowel is long or short?
- In words that contain only 1 vowel, that vowel is usually short. (dog, cat, stick)
- In words that contain 2 vowels, the first vowel is usually long and the second is silent. (silent "E" - bike, broke, made)
- In words where the 2 vowels are together, the first vowel is usually long, and the second is silent. (coat, rain, beam)
- Every syllable must have a vowel.
- When a syllable ends in a vowel, that vowel is usually long. (me, he, be, no)
- Double consonants make one sound. (pass, happy, daddy, hammer)
- Soft sounds: Consonants C & G followed with either "E", "I", or "Y" become "soft" sounds.
- Soft C makes the /s/ sound (center, civil, cycle)
- Soft G makes the /j/ sound (giant, gender, gym)
- Q and U are always paired together - with some rare exceptions where Q appears by itself in certain names.
- Combining 2 consonants to form 1 sound is known as consonant digraphs. (ch, sh, ph)
- Rules do not work 100% of the time, and there are always exceptions!
This last rule is probably the most important:
- You do NOT need to teach phonics rules to help a child learn to read!
So there you have it. The above lists some of the very important rules of phonics. Although important, I must reiterate again here that you do NOT need to teach these rules to teach a young child (or anyone) to read. Common sense would dictate that if you tried to teach these to a child, the poor child would probably become more confused instead.
Some food for thought:
- Does knowing what a short or long vowel is really help a child read better? Or does it make more sense to teach children how or why vowels sound the way they do? It's probably not far fetched to say that many adults do not even know what a long or a short vowel is! My children certainly do not know what a short or long vowel is, but they sure know how to read properly. ie: "mat" vs "mate", or "kit" vs "kite".
- It's much easier to teach the sounds of digraphs, than to try to teach the rule of what makes a digraph, a digraph... Do you really need to know what makes a digraph to be able to read? Of course not! Try explaining that to a 3 year old. =)
The point I'm trying to make here is that there's no need to get fixated on teaching the proper phonics rules to children. It's not necessary, it can cause confusion, and the rules do not apply 100% of the time!
The proper process of learning to read phonetically is through the teaching of synthetic phonics instructions along with phonemic awareness development. This amazing combination is proven in its amazing effectiveness in teaching anyone to read. Through a unique combination of these techniques, our reading program will easily teach anyone to read. Children of all ages have learned to read successfully using the Children Learning Reading program.
You're going to have a heck of a tough time trying to teach a 3 or 4 year old to read - or even older children and adults for that matter - by teaching them the many rules listed. It just doesn't work. Instead, you need to focus on what works - synthetic phonics and phonemic awareness, which is the ability to distinguish, work with, and manipulate phonemes, and developing a fluent and automatic ability to decode on the fly.