In recent years, there has been a huge shift to Phonics, a method of teaching children how to read in which they are taught to correlate sounds to symbols. This approach teaches children to decode words using sounds as opposed to recognizing the word as a whole and forms a connection between sounds and their spelling. The goal of Phonics is to help readers rapidly determine the sounds in unfamiliar written words. Research has shown that Phonics instructions have had a strong influence on the reading abilities of children. This method includes teaching children letters (graphemes) that represent phonemes as well as teaching them how to blend the letters into words. In early years teaching, the words are usually broken up into the smallest units of sound (phonemes). Phonics teaches children to listen carefully and identify the phonemes that make up each word. The alphabet lies in the core of Phonics. In order to completely master it, one must have mastered the alphabet and be able to connect the letters of the alphabet to their corresponding sounds. Phonics classes in young children are often made up from games, songs and actions and are usually much enjoyed by the children. Classes usually consist of learning the following (reference).
- GPCs - grapheme phoneme correspondences. They are taught sounds (phonemes) in a particular order.
- Blending - here the children are taught how to blend the sounds together. Children say the sounds and are able to merge them together until they can hear what the word is. This step is vital is learning how to read.
- Segmenting - this is the opposite of blending in the sense children are able to say a word and then break it into the phonemes that make it. This step is vital in learning how to spell words.