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Indian Parents 'THINK' they know all about Phonics, and most of them have a strong opinion against it, or are totally confused. The reason is, parents DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPT... they don't... and most of them don't want to. Frankly, the parents are not totally at fault here.
Reading is the most important skill developed during the initial years of one's life. Unfortunately, in India there are lots of misconceptions floating around the concept. Being a Phonics Trainer and someone who believes in the importance of books and reading I feel there is such a huge gap which needs to be filled.
Most schools in India, don't believe in moving with the times, while most countries have made phonics mandatory. In India, the schools decide whether they want Phonics or not, actually I have seen schools follow different things in different sections. Most of them choose the tried and tested whole word approach or worst, a mix of Phonics and whole world. Conventional schools don't believe in investing and getting teachers trained.
Parents on the other hand are usually confused, and most of them who thing they know all about phonics usually don't.
As a Phonics Trainer, I believe, It's not important to make sure your child starts reading at 3-4-5 years. What's important is that s/he learns in the right manner.
As parents, we should know, a child goes through various stages of reading:
Stage 1: 4-6 years (development of pre - reading skills). Sound recognition, basic blending, sight words, basic spelling rules
Stage 2: 6-10 years (from budding to independent reader) Fluency, confidence, more sight words, spelling rules, alternate sounds.
Stage 3: 11+ Confidence and speed.
*The ages mentioned are on an average. Some kids learn fast and some take a little time.
If parents read to the child regularly, kids understand the concept of reading faster.
Now a days, I've seen Phonics Trainers are on the rise. No one is bothered to check how qualified or experienced they are. Due to some unqualified Phonics Trainers parents have had bad experiences, and they blame the concept and not the trainer. Whether you choose to send your child to Phonics classes is something you need to decide. If you decide to send your child to Phonics classes, it's crucial for us to keep a few things in mind when and if we choose a trainer:
a. Please ensure you choose a 'qualified' Trainer who knows her/his work.
b. Don't shy away from asking any questions or clearing your doubts. Your doubts will be cleared if and how your queries are taken care of.
c. A Phonics Trainer should ideally be well-spoken, because they are teaching 'English' phonetically.
d. There are schools which claim they follow the 'phonics' approach, but they do not follow it completely, at times, they do not have teaching staff which is trained well.
e. Make sure you ask for an induction before enrolling the child.
f. Look at the material used by these Trainers.
g. A good trainer will ALWAYS stress on importance of reading books to the child and with your child. Decoding & comprehension can always go hand in hand and that is the best way forward.