One of the foundational skills your little one needs to learn is LISTENING. Not just listening to Mummy and Daddy, but listening to speech and language sounds. These skills will help him breeze through phonics when he is older.
We teachers never get the kind of quality time that you enjoy with your child. Hence, the enrichment we give them is solely confined to the classroom. But you, Mummy or Daddy, have the world for a classroom in which to teach your little one. That means that you can be as creative as you like in teaching him. So here are some tips to creatively help him develop his listening skills.
Point out sounds. Regularly call his attention to sounds around him: the birds, the cars, the waves crashing on the beach, the doorbell. Not only does this tune his ears to sounds, it also helps him to be more alert and observant.
Point out sequences of recurring sounds. A good place to find this is at the beach. Did you ever notice that the waves going out and the waves coming in make two different sounds? :) First you have a CRASH, as the wave hits the beach, followed by a slow whooooosh as it goes back out. Point it out to him and follow the sequence aloud (first CRASH, then whooosh; first CRASH, then whooosh) as you both sit in the shade and watch the water. You might feel silly after a few rounds, but he probably won’t think so! ;)
Why do this? Because eventually, he is going to have to use this sequencing ability to help him in his spelling! What you’re doing here is to guide his mind to follow sequences based on auditory stimuli. In other words, learn to listen to sounds and the order they come in.
Play games with alliteration. This is easy and fun. There are numerous little songs and nursery rhymes that play with the first sounds in words; but you can also make up little sentences as you go through the day… for instance, “Super Siti will be Six years old in September!” or “Can Calvin quickly Clear his Cup and plate?” Emphasize the similar sounds.
If you feel nonsensical, there’s a fun game you could try. Sing “Twinkle, twinkle, little star,” but change all the first sounds to a /t/, or whatever sound you like. It becomes, “Twinkle, twinkle, tittle tar.” You can have lots of fun with this one. I’ve always wanted to try it, but never dared to do it in class for fear of the rowdiness it would generate! :)
As it always is with children, don’t look for quick results. It will take time for your little one to understand what you’re trying to bring across. But be consistent, and patient, and you’ll get results. Have fun!
Feel free to share your experiences too!