(Excerpts used by permission from BJU Press)
Say the word phonics in a crowd, and the definitions of it will be as varied as the people. Simply stated, phonics is the study of the spellings of the sounds of a language. English has only twenty-six letters, so obviously some letters must represent several sounds.
Beyond that, because of the variety of origins of our words, English has 250 ways to spell the 44 sounds. English speakers seldom have to say, “We have no word for that idea.” But the price for this lovely language is that when young children are trying to figure it all out, it is most difficult. A balanced reading program invites children into the joy of reading and at the same time provides them with the phonics instruction they need to become fluent, skilled readers.
BJU Press uses the analytic method of teaching phonics. This method looks at the whole word, determining what the vowel will say in that syllable by identifying the phonogram. The initial sound is combined with the phonogram (_at/ c – at/ cat). The word is pronounced and then identified in context.
BJU Press’s Phonics curriculum uses memorable and funny characters to make learning phonics fun and interesting. Take Mr. and Mrs. Short, for instance. Mrs. Short is dependent upon her husband; she never goes anywhere without him. Mrs. Short is the short vowel sound in a word, and Mr. Short is the consonant that always follows a short vowel sound in a word, as in hit.
When children are familiar with short vowel sounds, they can begin on the long vowel sounds. Another character is Miss Long. Miss Long wants to be alone. Miss Long is at the end of a syllable in words like go, me, and Bible. Marker e is a dog; he likes to follow Miss Long around. He does not say anything; he just gives signals. So when the children see an e at the end of a one-syllable word, such as hike, dime, and hide, they know the vowel sound is Miss Long.
This is only a short overview of how BJU Press uses characters to teach phonics rules. This curriculum combines the benefits of phonograms with the fun of phonics songs and the pretend phonics characters. Together it makes a great way to learn.
One of the great benefits of teaching phonics this way is that it not only emphasizes phonics but also encourages comprehension through silent reading. Children gain the life skill of reading silently to get the author’s message.