English Language Literacy Guide

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literacy
Literacy is a life skill that aids children to interact with the world and understand it. (Souce: Joybot)

Literacy is an integral skill for your children to interact with the world around them. Looking at how words are spoken and, in turn, being able to read and write them, are some of the most valuable skills to pass on to a child. There are multiple ways literacy can transform a child’s life. It teaches children to communicate, to observe, and to be able to strategise and understand situations. Teaching literacy gives children the power to craft their own futures and delve into their own worlds, giving them the confidence to speak and to educate themselves through books and other mediums of content.

What is Literacy? 

The term literacy is used to denote the ability to communicate. Being able to communicate opens multiple channels in your life and is important for functioning. Literacy is much more than simply speaking, reading, writing, or listening, but it is directly connected to our ability to connect with others through our responses. This includes things like interpreting and discerning others language and tone to be able to communicate openly and confidently. 

The English language is versatile and nuanced. How communication is delivered has been transformed from traditional lessons that would have included reading and comprehension, while also incorporating digital elements into the learning experience. Being able to use these traditional methods of literacy while also including digital literacies prepares your child for every facet of communication they will encounter as they grow older. 

literacy games
Literacy games improve children’s use of language and reading comprehension. (Source: Ben Grey)

What is Phonics? 

A word that usually accompanies literacy is the word ‘phonics’. Phonics is the relationship between sounds, words, and letters. It is an integral part of helping students understand how to respond to language correctly. It involves two key parts: decoding words and blending words. Decoding involves the recognition of the letters and correct pronunciation of them The blending part involves stringing these letters together to create a word. These are both crucial for speech and reading. 

Phonics is incredibly important as an active learning strategy as it revolutionises how children interact with words and sounds. Fluency in literacy can be achieved using a variety of strategies, activities, and games that encourage children to immerse themselves in the English language. Being able to process how words should sound is done through an understanding of phonics. 

Phonics helps children with reading as well. Reading comprehension can be gained through phonics as children find sounds in spellings, and decode them into words of texts. Decoding is integral to word recognition which aids eventually with fluency as well. As children stop struggling with words, then they are able to concentrate on other questions that may arise from the text that trumps simply understanding the letters and words in front of them. Phonics also helps with a child’s spelling capabilities because spelling patterns become more familiar as they read. English letters can be spelt with phonics rules that relate one letter to one sound, making it easier for children to learn the language. 

Teaching phonics is something that is very deliberate and clear. Helping children learn their letters and sound them out is an encouraging and important thing. Phonics should begin by sounding out the letter distinctly for your child. Let them practice if they need to. Using phonics can be explained like a code to children that they have to crack. Blending these sounds together shows them the joy of creating their own words as well. 

There are many ways that phonics is taught and there is a system that allows children to gain crucial understanding to aid them in knowing which letters to use when they are writing words. There are different types of phonics which rely on different methods to deliver the content to students. The most popular method is known as synthetic phonics. This involves the teaching of the reading of phonemes. Phonemes are a word for sounds. This is in relation to the particular letters (known as graphemes) in regards to how they are pronounced by themselves and then blended together or synthesised. Children could be taught a single syllable word like ‘bat’ and pronounce each sound for each letter. Then, blend these words together to form a word. 

Another method of phonics is analytical phonics. This technique is used avidly in Scotland. It is taught by reading sounds associated with particular letters that aren’t pronounced singularly. This way, children learn to identify the common sounds in a set of words in which each word contains the particular sound that they are learning. An example of this could be words like pat, park, push, or pen. 

Analogy phonics is another popular method used to teach children who are engaging in phonics instruction. Children analyse phonic elements according to phonograms or ‘rimes’ in the word. These rimes, as they are known in linguistics, are composed of a vowel and all the sounds that follow it. This could be the rime of ‘ake’ which is commonly seen in a variety of words like ‘lake’. This instructs children of these word families and they are able to correlate them with other text like ‘take’, ‘sake’, ‘cake’, ‘bake’, and so on. Lastly, embedded phonics is used as another method to deliver phonics instruction. This method involves the teaching of reading in which phonics is constructed as a full language programme. It is somewhat different from other structured teaching methods, as it is taught in the context of literature. This means that phonics skills are taught as they are seen in the text rather than being taught singularly. 

Delivering phonics lessons allows children to see the relationship between letters and sounds, and the correlation between the written word and speech. Reading development is massively increased when children are taught phonics as they begin to recognise patterns in the words and are able to discern and distinguish between different sounds. This is a great option for children who are learning to read and write, and it presents plenty of opportunities to read with them and help them develop their language skills. There are multiple resources that make teaching phonics an achievable goal for children, with plenty of online resources for parents, guardians, and teachers who need ideas to utilise these teaching methods in the classroom.

Learning Through Play: Using Literacy Games to Learn

Literacy is something that can be achieved through a variety of different methods, but one of the most successful ways of teaching it is learning through play. Children also enjoy interacting with their loved ones when learning new things. This is something that should encourage a form of homeschooling as studies have proven that children interact with educational material with more excitement and motivation when a parent or guardian takes an active role in their education. This, in turn, leads to higher levels of achievement. There are plenty of opportunities to teach children literacy without interfering with daily life. Taking opportunities to show them its importance is key. 

There are plenty of ways that you can help them learn literacy. Showing them how you use literacy in daily functioning is a great way of starting. This could involve demonstrating reading recipes to make them lunch or dinner, it could be reading the opening times of a store. Allowing them to read a wide range of books and other texts is important too. Here, they will encounter a plethora of words and utilise them in daily life. These texts could be newspapers, novels, comics and magazines. You can even show them the versatility of text by giving them digital mediums to consume by helping them read and write emails, showing them websites to read, and even something as trivial as reading a timetable – all these interactions aid with children’s literacy. 

literacy and phonics
Learning the alphabet and phonics speeds up children’s literacy learning capabilities. (Source: Eduprints Plus)

There are plenty of ways your child can and will communicate with people as they get older – verbally and non-verbally. Teaching them to write and design different things through a variety of mediums is a great way of introducing this concept to them. Talking to them about how they comprehend these mediums is important, asking them why they think something was written and who the audience is are great ways to encourage their critical thinking abilities and help them recognise layers in texts. Another way to show them literacy in daily life is the differences in language in regards to formality. Showing them letters in comparison to text messages will show the need for different forms of communication, and how they are displayed. 

Encouraging children to talk about something they have read or watched is another important form of literacy – it allows them to comprehend and process information. Asking them why they found something interesting or funny is a great way of getting them to verbalise and, eventually, write their emotions and feelings in a constructive format. This allows them to find their tastes as they can talk about their favourite films and novels using language that helps them communicate why they enjoy particular things. This also allows them to expand their vocabulary as they can learn more exotic words and phrases from consuming a variety of mediums using these types of texts. They can also engage with the dictionary as well, and read some words that are fascinating and conducive to their personal learning. 

With this encouragement of learning, activities and games can be used to help children have fluency in literacy in an entertaining and dynamic environment. Learning through play helps children develop their intellects and teaches them that learning words and communicating effectively is an enjoyable experience. There is a plethora of materials available online and in texts that can be found at home or in libraries to encourage children with literacy and empower them with solid communication skills to aid them in their interactions as well as their education.

 

The Importance of Literacy

Literacy is a vital skill for those who want to communicate with people and the world around them. It gives people the confidence and ability to reason, communicate, and understand interactions and tone while opening up the opportunity for enjoyment of educational pursuits and activities in the arts as well. Literacy is needed for career progression, so instilling children with literacy skills at an early age is a great way of ensuring that they have successful futures. 

Encouraging children with literacy skills through instruction in phonics and reading comprehension to start with, gives children the confidence to pursue other activities that may seem irrelevant to literacy but are vital to daily functions. Things like reading timetables for public transportation, being able to fill out forms, instructions for building things or even taking medicine, even things like using the internet. Literacy affects most aspects of our lives and giving children the opportunity to learn and grow from these experiences is important. 

Our society is one that operates very intentionally and independently online, and digital skills are swiftly becoming an integral part of a child’s learning. Using technology includes forms of literacy as well and engaging with the internet, in particular, requires fluency and literacy to effectively achieve the goals of the child. Being able to discern and interpret information that is relevant comes from literacy, and this is something children should be able to do with the vast quantities of information available at their fingertips through the world wide web. 

 

Literacy Games: Learning the Alphabet

When studying phonics, one of the first steps you will learn is the English alphabet. Learning to decode words and blend these sounds together is an important part of literacy and for children to understand the world around them. Finding exciting ways of delivering phonics activities for children to learn from is a creative process that can involve your child as well. Phonics can involve learning the sounds to each letter singularly, giving you plenty of material to use with your child. Giving your children these options allows them to learn words faster and have an easier time engaging with reading comprehension. 

One activity that children can enjoy whilst learn the alphabet is the box game. This involves two small boxes that have two different letters attached to them. What makes this activity so effective is that you will use items from around the home which makes this game economically friendly, but also offers familiarity for your children as they see objects that they are accustomed to. A great way of involving children in the planning process is getting them to select their own objects and, from there, you can offer which letters are chosen. 

When you are both ready to play the game, set the objects on the table and ask your children to pick up the objects that they think correlate to the letters on the boxes. As they pick up each object, they will have time to sound out the letters and place them in the correct box. This is a great way of seeing if a child has properly engaged with the content you have produced and it can be made harder depending on their ability. Making it harder could be getting objects that you know are harder to spell and encouraging your child to use phonics to achieve their answer. Even if they need simple words, that is fine as well. Get them to slowly spell out the words and then place them in the box. 

One of the key parts of education is repetition. As children practice, they become more familiar with the words and work out where they should go. When you have finished with the first letters that you put on the boxes, you can change the letters again and get children to select objects they think relate to those letters. This is a really effective method to aid children with their pronunciation of words as well as they interact with words and work out their pronunciations. Getting children to write the letters down and pronounce them one by one can help as well, as some children need a visual. Eventually, they will be able to do these words unaided and without the need for a pen and paper as well. 

 

 

Literacy Games: Writing Letters

Learning to write letters is another active process in learning the alphabet and it is a key activity for gaining literacy skills. Taking items or things and introducing children to them as being part of that letter is a great way of encouraging them to take the first steps in understanding how to write letters correctly and expertly. One game on writing the letter ‘s’ could involve taking a snake toy or, like we have done, pretending the ‘s’ is a snake and pretending the snake is moving around from its head to its tail. This is an exciting and deliberate act that encourages children to get involved with spellings. 

Learning letters is an exciting and fun activity for children to be involved with. Also, there are plenty of activities that are economically friendly that help children learn. You can do this activity with paint which provides a different type of material for children to use and be involved with. Write the letter ‘s’ down on a piece of paper and then allow your child to trace the letter with a paintbrush using the colour of their choosing. This is an engaging and fun activity that aids children with learning letters and developing their literacy skills.

Learning to Read: Literacy Games

Reading and comprehension are natural parts of literacy, and they can be taught in a dynamic way to encourage children to read and grow in this art. Reading requires phonics to be able to understand the words, but tone and punctuation is also incredibly important for the reading and learning experience. Creativity can be encouraged as well as children imagine what the voices are meant to sound like and demonstrate them for everyone. Encouraging children to approach reading as an exciting and fun activity is allowing them to subconsciously respect reading as an activity they enjoy.

There are many methods of encouraging children to read and engage with work. Let your child pick the story that they want to read. Ask them questions about the plot and allow them to divulge their insights into the work. From here, you can ask more focussed questions that interact in the text. For example, why is there a full stop here or why do you think they used a comma here? This also allows children to learn vocabulary and word meanings by doing the voices according to their tone or the adverbs that the text releases. 

Reading gives the chance for children to interact with punctuation and utilise it correctly. Using full stops, exclamation marks, capital letters, question marks, and other forms of punctuation are easier to understand and utilise when examples of text are given. Reading a variety of mediums exposes children to the different types of punctuation they may encounter when reading and writing. Providing entertaining ways of learning literacy rules helps children engage with their work and pick up reading with ease and skill.

Literacy Games: Learning Phonics 

Phonics is used to help children correlate sounds to all the different letters in the English alphabet. This helps with children’s literacy skills as they learn how to decode and blend letters into words, eventually helping them achieve fluency in speech, and thus reading and writing. There are plenty of phonics games that make this an exciting prospect for children as they learn different words and how they should sound. Using materials that you would find around your house is a great way of encouraging phonics instruction. Materials like lego pieces and flashcards can be used to help children learn language skills.

For using flashcards as a means of facilitating a phonics lesson, simply write out all the letters of the alphabet for the child. Hold up each card and get your child to sound out the letter. If you want to make it more challenging for your child, you could combine letters to make words and ask them to sound out these words for you. Another way of practising phonics through activities is by using a whiteboard. Write letters on a whiteboard that make up a word and get your child to make the sounds that are associated with the word. This is a great way of combining letters like ‘ch’, ‘th’ and so on. Phonics games are creative ways for you to introduce your children to the gift of literacy through speech and writing. Providing them with opportunities to practice their literacy and language skills in a controlled, safe environment while also entertaining them is a great way to keep them engaged in lessons.

Literacy Games: CVC Games

CVC games are a great way to make sure that your child is absorbing words and understanding how letters are structured. CVC words are words that have a consonant, short vowel, and consonant. This could resemble words like dog, pat, rig, kit, and so on. There are plenty of ways that you can teach these CVC words and make it easier for children to understand by using CVC games. Get your child to form a word from letters that you have selected. If your child can’t form these words and their ability isn’t there yet, simply choose the word and ask them to form it instead. Make sure your kids have pipe cleaners to participate in this activity as well. Allowing them to manipulate the pipe cleaner into letters is a fun activity for them and also aids their fine motor skills.  

While doing this, you can get your kids to sound out the letters and blend them together. This is helping with their phonics and also introducing them to words like consonant and vowel, increasing their literary vocabulary. This is a practical game that can use materials that you find around the home. You could use straws, play doh, or paper if pipe cleaners aren’t available. There are multiple ways to make this activity a creative learning experience that creates a dynamic environment for children to learn in. Phonics and CVC games help with long term literacy and aid children in participating in reading and writing.

Literacy Games: Letter Formation 

Letter formation games are a great way of encouraging children to learn their letter letters and help with their literacy skills. Letter Formation paint bags not only offer ways for children to engage with literacy activities, but they also help with fine motor skills as well. Children can trace their letters into the paint bag to show how they know each letter. Start with lowercase letters and then, when they are confident with those, you can begin showing the children their uppercase letters. 

The activity is a simple one to make. Get a sealable bag and fill it with a paint colour of your choosing. Make sure to seal the bag after so that paint isn’t spread everywhere. From here, you can teach your child the letter. Use the other end of a pen to write the letter into the paint or even use a finger to deliberately carve it out. If you put white paper underneath the paint bag,  the letter shines through the paint as the child traces it out. This is also a reusable activity to remove the letter simply requires a shaking of the paint bag. This is a really fun activity that is great for children who are just adapting to literacy and need the fundamentals of learning letters. Literacy can be taught using active learning strategies like paint letter formation games.

Literacy Games: Adjectives 

 

Knowing words is important but, naturally, there are nuances in language that need to be taught and learned. Knowing what nouns, verbs and adjectives are important literacy lessons to learn, and knowing their differences is crucial for learning. An adjective is a describing word and is used to make other words, usually nouns, more colourful. There are lots of games and activities for learning adjectives that make learning grammar fun for children while also providing them with a unique learning experience. Learning these rules are integral to literacy.

An adjective game that is fun for all the family is known as ‘Adjective PingPong’. Adjective Pingpong’s main goal is to ensure that children are able to differentiate between nouns, verbs, and adjectives, and use them confidently and correctly. Taking it in turns like hitting a ping pong ball, start by saying an adjective and then let the children take turns in saying their own. You can keep going until someone loses. To win, you have to make sure you don’t repeat a word, that the word you have chosen is definitely an adjective and not a verb or a noun. There is also a time limit. You and children playing only have ten seconds to think of another word. This should be one silently so it doesn’t put any pressure on the child playing. As a loser’s forfeit, you can use a feather to tickle the nose of the person who didn’t get it correct. This is a really fun way of ensuring that children are engaging with literacy activities and learning grammar successfully.

Literacy Games: Reading Comprehension

One of the most important parts of literacy is reading comprehension. This is integral for a child as it ensures that they understand and grasp the concepts and themes that are being reflected in the texts. It also allows children to focus on words and how to spell and say correctly. Having a conversation with your child about what they are reading is important because there is more to novels than just the words on the pages. Teaching reading comprehension gives children confidence and allows them to ask questions, debate, and recognise patterns in language.

Reading comprehension allows children to engage with the text they’re reading and fully comprehend the meaning, integrating already learned ideas and thoughts, and communicate them in a coherent manner. There are multiple reading strategies that aid with reading comprehension and make learning it easier. Learning vocabulary, critically evaluating text, and involving yourself in deep reading is some of the activities that you can do to aid reading comprehension. Providing links of current knowledge and applying it to what they’re currently reading gives children in encouragement and also helps them realise their own learning processes.

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