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PHO·NICS Phonics is the basic rules for translating written symbols into sounds. Emergent readers and writers should understand that there is a relationship between letter patterns and sound patterns in English (the alphabetic principle), and eventually develop an awareness of the separate sounds in words. Without the recognition of words, there would be an incomplete foundation for constructing meaning. Phonics, along with other the use of context, word parts, syntax, and automaticity enables a reader to recognize words. Learning the basics- relationships between letters and sounds- enables children to decode words they have never seen before. As this process becomes more automatic, it releases children’s attention to the higher-level activities involved in comprehending the text’s meaning. Children will use phonics along with the context and syntax of the text, the illustrations, and the words they recognize automatically. The most effective and efficient phonics instruction focuses on children’s attention on noticing letter/sound patterns in the major components of syllables: that is, on noticing the letter/sound patterns in initial consonants and consonant clusters and in the rime, which consists of the vowel of a syllable plus consonants, such as –ake, -ent, -ish, -ook. Students should not see the rules as fundamentals but rather as a way to note patterns within words. For example, the silent final e is not always consistent, but knowing about it does help the reader note the pattern. Rules should not be taught for recitation. When children have a context in which to learn the code system, instruction of phonics is most successful. Children who have been exposed to print during the early child development years have a solid foundation for learning to read. For children lacking this foundation, activities such as listening to stories, shared reading of Big Books, and matching print in nursery rhymes on charts provides them with a context of what reading and writing are and the uses that sound letter knowledge might have.

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