When your child is around six years old, you have to focus on their phoneme segmentation skills. It comes under the broad umbrella of phoneme awareness, which also includes isolation and blending. In simple terms, phoneme segmentation refers to the process of breaking down a word into its sounds.
Here are some phoneme segmentation examples. You can segment the word cat into three sounds – /c/, /a/, and /t/. The word sit has three sounds- /s/, /i/, and /t/. Each one of these sounds is a phoneme, the smallest sound unit in any language. These phonemes come together to form a word.
Remember that while segmenting words, you have to focus on the sound and not the letters. For instance, the word table has five letters, but it doesn’t have five sounds. It has only three phonemes -/t/, /a/, and /bl/. Hence, it is clear that you have to emphasize the sounds and not the letters while you guide your kids/students.
Nonetheless, it is best to step into these complex sounds after you have helped them master simple sounds once they are thorough with the basics.
The Importance of Phoneme Segmentation for Kids
When a child learns or understands phoneme segmentation, it helps in breaking words into sounds. By doing so, your child would find it easy to blend them, which would assist in developing their reading skills.
Studies show that the first step in gaining reading skills is working on phoneme segmentation. Here, your child would acquire an understanding of the association of sounds and letters. It would pave the way for building their reading abilities.
There has been yet another study conducted recently, which shows how new learners can improve their reading skills as they work on phoneme segmentation. It can also play a vital role in enhancing a child’s writing skills, including building vocabulary and spelling.
When you focus on helping your child in mastering their oral language skills, phoneme segmentation can enhance their literacy levels. In a nutshell, these skills act as the foundation on which children have to work on as they grow. With a strong base, your child can build all the related forms of language skills with ease.
How to Teach Segmentation of Phonemes?
While your child is learning more about words and sounds, you can introduce phoneme segmentation slowly. Initially, you can focus on 31 sounds, and once your child/student gains a clear picture, you can move forward to other sounds. It is when you can delve into sounds that contain more than one part. They include /spr/, /ph/, /bl/, /sh/, etc.,
Here are a few other tips that can assist you while teaching phoneme segmentation to kids.
Create a Systematic and Explicit Approach
When you have a systematic approach while teaching, it will help your students in the long run. Kickstarting with easy tasks would aid your students while learning. You can then gradually increase the complexity. However, ensure that your kid/students are following you through the process.
Another method you can follow is explaining what you would be expecting from the students by teaching phoneme segmentation. For that purpose, you can bring in different models and images so that your kids would gain clarity.
While guiding your child or student through phoneme segmentation, you have to ensure that you are offering them feedback. It would help them improve their skills and acquire progress with time.
I DO-WE DO-YOU DO is a technique adopted by most teachers and parents while teaching kids. Here, you would be starting as a model. For instance, you can bring in phoneme segmentation examples and show how to do it. If the word is ‘dog,’ you can explain it has three sounds- /d/, /o/, and /g/.
You can repeat it several times with the same or different examples and move forward only when your child has understood it clearly.
In the second step, you can do it along with your child or student. Here, you can take another example and practice it with your kids. Once you are sure that your child is confident, you can move forward to the YOU DO section. Here, you can ask your kids to do the phoneme segmentation of the words you provide.
Focus on the Different Word Types in English
While delving into the segmentation of phonemes, you have to look into the three types of words in the English language. Here, you can progress from the first category to the second with time.
1. In the first type of words, there would only be a vowel. For example, I -/i/ and oh -/o/.
2. In the second type, there would only be a consonant followed by a vowel. They include words like see- /s/, /e/.
3. In the third type, there can be different combinations. They can be consonant-vowel-consonant or CVC, consonant-consonant-vowel or CCV, and consonant-consonant-vowel-consonant (CCVC). For example, frog, it has four sounds- /f/, /r/, /o/, and /g/, and it is in the form CCVC.
While teaching phoneme segmentation, try to take it slow. You have to give special attention based on your child’s/student’s requirements. Ensure that you are presenting it in fun and interactive ways, which would help children maintain their interests.
Fun Phoneme Segmentation Activities to Try
Bringing in fun ways to learn would strike the curiosity of kids. Here, we have brought together some phoneme segmentation activities that you can try at home or school.
For conducting this activity, you would need some tiles or bingo chips. You can create charts with squares in them, where the kids would have to place the tiles while they say out the sounds.
Another variation of this activity would be creating different shapes instead of squares. You can ask your kids to blend the word after they have segmented it.
It is yet another simple activity that you can try using three mats of different colors. It is suitable for words with three phonemes. However, you can increase the mats based on the number of sounds you want to include.
Here, you can give the word and ask the child to jump from one mat to the other while saying it out aloud. There are several options for modifying the activity by bringing in movements. For instance, you can ask kids to clap or dance while moving from one mat to another.
Break it Down
You can start this activity by singing the break it down song, which you can find here. In this activity, kids would have to tap their arms while saying out words with three phonemes. For the first sound, kids can touch their shoulders, and for the second one, they can tap on the middle portion of their arms.
For the last sound, they have to touch their hands. Once they have completed the segmentation, they can slide it up while blending the sounds to form the word.
By bringing in these fun phoneme segmentation activities, your kids can acquire language skills with ease. It would also help them in working on their reading, listening, writing, and speaking skills. You can always rely on your creativity and form new activities that would grab your kids’ attention.