What are Phonemes? What is the difference between Phoneme Awareness and Phonological Awareness?
If you are coming across terms like these, they can be quite confusing and foreign. I decided to put together a poster laying out the basic Phonic’s jargon. If you are a parent encountering these sayings for the first time, or an educator refreshing your knowledge. I hope this poster can be useful. Below is the text used in the Poster:
Phoneme The smallest unit of sound in oral language.
Phonemic awareness The ability to manipulate individual phonemes to form spoken words.
Phonics The relationship between graphemes (units of written language; letters) and phonemes (smallest units of oral language; sounds) in reading and writing.
Phonics instruction Instruction in the relationship between letters and sounds and applying the knowledge to reading and spelling.
Phonological awareness The ability to detect and manipulate larger units of sound structures, such as syllables and rhyme.
Do you remember those field trips/excursions at school? You felt a tangible sense of excitement and had joyful jitters. You got to escape out of the classroom confines and finally touch the real world..
I remember them all. They were the sunshine days among the clouds. Why did they stand out so much from my other days at school? One of the reasons is this.
A major source of fuel for a child’s learning is curiosity.
From the Science Daily, I sourced information around how Curiosity directly effects the learning experience and retention of memory.
“…the team discovered that when curiositymotivated learning, there was increased activity in the hippocampus, a brain region that is important for forming new memories, as well as increased interactions between the hippocampus and the reward circuit. “So curiosity recruits the reward system, and interactions between the reward system and the hippocampus seem to put the brain in a state in which you are more likely to learn and retain information, even if that information is not of particular interest or importance,” explains principal investigator Dr. Charan Ranganath, also of UC Davis.”
Matthias J. Gruber, Bernard D. Gelman, Charan Ranganath. States of Curiosity Modulate Hippocampus-Dependent Learning via the Dopaminergic Circuit. Neuron, 2014 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.08.060
Alot of traditional learning environments are almost void of curiosity. A child is told to sit down, follow, listen, stay still, and obey. After awhile the child slips into a dulled down state or forces back with “poor behaviour.” Their engagement level becomes low and they become uninterested. They shut off their (metaphorical) gates for learning, and you are left trying to cram information through the edges..
For me personally, I hated being stuck in a classroom all day. My curiosity was bursting to learn about the real world. To have a chance to experience it up close, not just in books or songs.
“From my experience of working with kids, when you increase the curiosity factor of an activity, the child’s “learning gate” begins to open. Healthy chemicals like dopamine (contributes to concentration) and endorphins (feel good neurotransmitters) are flowing and the child is not only enjoying themselves, they are focused and fully engaged!” – Mr Jamie
Going on outdoor field trips is like fireworks for a young child’s brain. New neural pathways are being connected and strengthened and this creates a fresh understanding of the world around them as well as bringing a new state of awareness.
“New habits, experiences, practice, and any kind of learning causes neural pathways to rearrange and change.”
Well what about Hong Kong children, they have lots of varied classes right?
Yes, they do have many classes. The list is endless: Music, sports, gymnastics, martial arts, cooking, drawing, painting, languages, drama, computer coding, STEM, lego, chess, debate classes, … And so many more!
HOWEVER, most of these classes (except for some recreation ones) are typically done inside a learning centre classroom (or box prisons as I call them) Nothing entirely wrong with that. As it takes care of any variables that could go wrong, as well as increasing class numbers ($$$). But I wont go there.. It does provide a “safe environment” of comfortability, but this doesn’t stretch kids social and real life communicational skills. To learn skills that are relevant with the outside world, you have to go outside!
Seeing this could be a great way to engage kids, I began to start creating Outdoor sessions. While working with a few parents, we would take their children downstairs to the park, basketball court, or playground to conduct the last half our class. I would connect kids with their present environment, interact with games in their natural or manmade landscape. Judging from the positive feedback, I continued. I began to formulate the Mission side of the session. To keep kid’s attention on a topic, we first had to create our mission. So when we are downstairs, the children have a purpose and a plan. This opened up new places to explore, like shopping malls and shops. Why use fake fruit for teaching, when you can experience the real deal up close! Children also see their teacher up close interacting with locals in the community, and feel confident to try also. This type of modelling effect is quite powerful. I look forward to further developing these sessions and building support around outdoor learning. It’s time for kids to escape the classroom and rediscover the true essence of learning! Stay curious!
If you are interested to share your knowledge and collaborate around this topic, please fill the form below.
Bite sized 1 min Instagram video below for parents. Here are the Tips below:
1️⃣ KEEP IT SIMPLE
Introduce single sounds, diagraphs or letter combinations one at a time. The art of blending is step by step.
2️⃣ TRACKING LEFT TO RIGHT
Guiding a child’s eyes from left to right sets them up for smoother reading later on. As English text flows from left to right. Trying to build the a word from the back to the front is counterproductive.
3️⃣ SLOW TO FAST
Drag out the sounds to let kids hear the sounds individually, but slightly joined. Progress in speed depending on your child’s performance.
Free downloadable tick-off list for tracking your child’s vocab learning milestones.
Hey parents! I put together this list for my son, who will be turning 18 months soon. It won’t be too long before he starts speaking some vocab other than Mama and Dada. This list is merely for reference, so don’t be stressed if your child isn’t speaking all these by 24 months. Every child is unique and develops at their own speed.
What’s Inside? Part One looks at important adjectives, pronouns and prepositions. These are words the child will encounter everyday as they grow.
Part Two covers a broad list of common nouns that will really expand their vocabulary collection.
How to teach these to my kid? One of the best ways to teach vocab is through fun and play. When a child’s brain is actively engaged through play, it’s the best time to highlight vocabulary. Include the vocab into the game itself. This may entail going out to explore at the park and pointing out nouns, “Hey, look! A BIRD!” Even playing a game of hide and seek with items around the house. Any activity that can stimulate their curiosity.
“Mistakes are just learning opportunities waiting to be discovered. ” – Mr J
There would be no lightbulb if it wasn’t for the thousands of “mistakes” used to successfully create it in the first place. Every little mistake was like a guide towards the end solution.
If we want kids to be successful, then we have to be willing to let them try new things, test new pathways and ideas, even if we know they may fail along the way. As adults we have a tendency to want to control the outcome of an activity because we may share greater foresight of a solution. However this form of oversight isn’t helping the child, but rather dis”abling” them. It isn’t allowing them the chance to find their own solution through using their own abilities.
When a child is engaged and thinking on how to create, build or logistically plan something, we as adults should step back and let them take the reigns (to a degree). They need to know we are here to support them, but not control them. When kids sense they have this respect and freedom, it’s amazing what they can come up with!
Through the creative process, mistakes will happen. It is our duty to remind the child, “What can you try differently next time, what can you improve on, and what can you learn from this? Questions are the driving force that cause us to remain curious, to find those new ideas and question ourselves about our recent attempt.
“There are no failures, just lessons in disguise.” – Mr J
“Do not keep children to their studies by compulsion but by play.”
The quote above is by the world renowned philosopher Plato. Seems he knew the secret code of kids. Play. Hence the BEST way to start a tutoring session with young kids is through a play based activity. Why is it beneficial? – Kid’s brain’s love the interaction. They go into a state of super learning, their stress receptors are off, and their “curiousity” sensors are switched on ready to roll! – Kid’s feel they get to contribute to their session from the very start, and also share some of their emotional expression through the play activity. – It’s a great way to warm up in the language, as well as to the teacher, because most kids are learning English as a second language.
The video above comes from an engage activity from Mr Jamie’s 50/50 Oral and Phonics session. As you can see we got busy creating and constructing with Duplo. The child was more than willing to share the results and describe her creation. She was now in a flow state of productivity, a perfect state of mind to be in to begin our session.