What is Phonics?
Phonics is a method of teaching people to read by correlating sounds created by letters or groups of letters within an alphabet. When we teach spelling by phonics, we focus on the correlation between graphemes (groups of letters that form a single sound) and phonemes (their sounds). By studying spelling through phonics, students begin to see letter-sound relationships. As such, these students develop strong decoding and encoding skills.
A successful phonics curriculum focuses on the sounds within words rather than simply memorized spellings. The HEROES Academy spelling curriculum focuses on a different sound each week, but each week includes a variety of spellings that produce the same sound. Students develop pattern recognition skills rather than memorizing spelling rules and exceptions.
Rather than memorizing a set list of words each week, students become familiar with various spelling patterns that fit a single phonetic sound. For example, the long a sound can be created with the a-e spelling pattern such as in the word date. Alternatively, the long a sound can be created with the ai spelling pattern such as in the word bait. At the first and second grade level, you will notice that most of the words for a given week rhyme.
When we visited the bookstore, a popular field trip for us, I still felt as if my options were limitless. I, of course, subconsciously knew that the store reached beyond the cozy comfort of the children’s section and, eventually, the young adult section, but I was always gently directed towards a section containing a treasure trove of new literary delights. As I progressed from picture books to chapter books to middle grade books, young adult books, and eventually ventured towards whichever section I felt compelled, each new section brought about new entertainment, knowledge, and memories. I never once felt frustrated or illiterate.
I'm pleased to announce that our library has acquired several new titles thanks to the generous donations of some of our families.
Yes, I know that many of you also sighed in relief as your reluctant reader *finally* read a book. Your child might even be *hooked* on reading -- as long as it is a Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, but nothing else. I wholeheartedly acknowledge that some reluctant readers -- many reluctant readers -- have finally finished a book because of this series. However, I think we must ask ourselves, “Why read?” Is the purpose of reading simply to put a book in a child’s hand to check off the box labeled "Child read a book," or does it have another, more valuable purpose?