Do you know what to look for in a phonics program?

Do you know what to look for in a phonics program? Cover Image

Phonics seems to be the buzz word today but make sure you choose the right program for your child. Here’s how you go about doing it.

Looking for a phonics program for your child? Make sure you pick one with the right credentials. Falak Randerian, one of India’s few Jolly Phonics certified teachers, shows you how.

Phonics is the new buzz word, it seems people either love it or hate it but they sure can’t ignore it (something like Lady Gaga).

There are parents who are extremely keen to enroll their children in a phonics program, but they don’t know how to go about it. Mostly, schools are teaching phonics these days, but very few of them get their teachers trained. Montessori schools though do a beautiful job.

There is so much to phonics than just ‘sounds’. There is blending, segmenting, alternate sounds, tricky words, rules, comprehension, etc.

As parents, we need to understand, what our child normally goes through and here are the following stages

Stage 1: Pre-Reader: 4 to 6 years (development of pre-reading skills)
Children work on sound recognition, basic blending, sight words and basic spelling rules.

Stage 2: Budding Reader: 5.5 to 10 years (from budding to independent readers)
Children work on fluency, confidence, more sight words, spelling rules and alternate sounds.

Stage 3: Confident Readers: 10 years +
Children work on building confidence and increase their speed.

(*The ages mentioned are on an average. Some kids learn fast and some take a little time.)

When choosing a phonics trainer you have to broadly look at

  1. The Phonics Program
  2. The trainer

The Phonics Program

There are many methods of phonics available, how do we decide which one to choose?

  • Choose a program that is based on a step-by-step synthetic phonics approach. What is synthetic phonics? Also known as Blended Phonics, it is a method of teaching the individual sounds and then building up and working on blending or putting sounds together.
  • Choose a child friendly program, a program which follows the multi-sensorial approach and follows the pace of the child.
  • A program which grows with the child.
  • A flexible program is more suited for children, where the trainer can adjust the program to suit the needs of the child, and not vice versa.

Jolly Learning offers a beautiful Phonics and Grammar program which fits perfectly with the description of a good Jolly Phonics program. Once a child is through with the 3 levels of phonics, s/he can graduate to the Jolly Grammar program, up to Jolly Grammar 6, for children from 1st – 6th Grade.

The Trainer

You must have heard a program is as good as its trainer (or did I just make it up?) It is true though.

  • There are 2 levels of trainers as far as Jolly Phonics is concerned. The trainers who can train children (they should be certified by one of the Listed Jolly Phonics Trainer globally). Then there are listed trainers, mentioned in the Jolly Learning website. The listed trainers can train children and adults as well. You can check the names of the listed trainers for India here. Make sure you check the trainer’s credentials when you pick the trainer for your child.
  • Talk to parents who have children currently enrolled at the centre. I believe word of mouth is the best way to choose a good trainer.
  • An English Phonics trainer has to be very good as far as spoken and written English is concerned. They shouldn’t have a regional accent as that will affect the sound pronunciation while teaching children.
  • Stay away from trainers offering short term courses, Phonics can’t be taught over a month or a week, it needs practice, time and revision. Choose a trainer which offers programs that grow with your child.
  • Clarify your doubts; make sure you see the trainer is able to answer to all your queries.
  • Attend the induction program to know all the details.
  • If the trainer you choose doesn’t emphasise on the importance of reading, you should think of dropping them. A good trainer will know how crucial the habit of reading is for your child.

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