Review: Read with Phonics

Read with Phonics - it's the Hibbs

The new term has started well and the homework is flowing. The Little Lady is enjoying her new class and seems engaged with the learning projects. One of the challenges that all five year olds face is learning to read. It’s hard to remember learning to read as an adult as it’s a skill most of us, fortunately, take for granted. So, when it comes to helping a new reader to learn words and sounds our own memories of tins with words for recall homework and writing 1-10 in the margin and then listening attentively while words were uttered by the teacher for spelling, come back albeit vaguely. It’s a whole new world when we are encouraged to ‘blend’ and rehearse the ‘high frequency’ words let alone the words that they are going to have to recognise as nonsense by the end of this phase of learning.

You’ll know we like an app or two to help with learning. Some homework from school is set for completion on the school’s learning platform, so we set out in search of an app that could help with learning to read so as to accompany our home based activities – think play-dough and word bingo. We found ‘Read with phonics’ which looked good and so we decided to give it a go. Sophie, the designer of the app is a trained primary school teacher and invited us to trial the product, and it’s been well received here at it’s the Hibbs HQ.

The app is child led with fun and interactive games that require your little one to sound out words using their phonics knowledge. With a staged approach to acquiring single sounds initially, children are asked to identify the sounds and then spot them in words. A monster accompanies your child through the stages and cheers them as they succeed. A non-irritating voice sounds out phonics as a model for your child and then through progression they move to spelling words using phonics. After one stage is completed i.e. a sound, a new sound is set as a challenge. The children move from one area to the next and with each attempt the challenge increases. In line with the assessments that pupils face in Key Stage 1, there is a fun test to decide on which words are real words and which are nonsense words – each rejected word fills the monster with giggles. Our little one loves the game. She asks to play it and I can confirm although she completes her homework, she rarely asks to do it before I suggest it’s time to begin.

I’d give the app a definite thumbs up. Since we’ve been using it, her confidence has grown when she’s reading her school book and while some sounds still pose a challenge, repetition and rehearsal much like with the words in my tin box and the 1-10 challenge (it seems things haven’t changed that much since the 80s save for the internet) we are acquiring the ‘ch’, ‘ai’ and ‘igh’ sounds. Mouthing the sounds out is quite hilarious but if you can’t have fun when you are helping a 5 year old to learn to read, when can you?

Learn more at www.readwithphonics.com

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