Here, Primary Teacher April Dowdall has shared some of the resources she uses in her class to give parents some tips on how to teach phonics to younger kids at home.

These videos were made for the Junior Infants boys in St Brigid's Boys’ National School in Killester where April teaches. She is explaining everything to her boys but she has kindly shared them with everyone on Learn!

Why did you start making the videos?
I began making videos during the first lockdown last year. I was teaching senior infants and I felt it much more beneficial for them if I explained over a video, I then started messing around with a video app and was able to make simple videos that the kids really enjoyed.

I got good feedback from parents who were very happy to have it explained in a way that kept the children interested and was at their level. They are by no means professional quality videos but they are short and to the point and fun!

Can you explain phonics?
Phonics is how we teach children to read. Phonics focus on the sounds in words rather than the spelling. Children learn that words are made up of sounds, and these sounds are what we call phonics. We don’t call letters by their names when we start learning phonics- so the letter ‘A’ is called ‘ahh’ rather than ‘ayy’. This eventually leads to being fluent readers and writers.

You can find all of Ms Dowdall's phonics lessons on this YouTube playlist - PHONICS and SPELLINGS

What advice would you give people homeschooling re phonics?
First of all, remember not to put pressure on yourself! Teachers completely understand that you have a million and one other things to do on top of learning at home, please don't feel under pressure or stress to get everything done. Also, ask questions if you’re unsure of something - teachers are used to questions, we love them!

Secondly, keep it short. Children of junior and senior infant age won’t be able to sit down and concentrate for a long time. A short video and task is perfect. And thirdly, and most importantly, try to make it fun!

Keeping the attention of a five or six-year-old year old can be difficult unless there’s some sort of fun and games involved. There are so many free online websites to practice phonics, or CVC words (simple consonant, vowel, consonant words like ‘sun’), type ‘CVC word games’ into your search engine and you’ll get loads.

Try hands-on activities like treasure hunts around your home - "Find something that has ‘s’ at the beginning".

Flyswatter/ spatula SPLAT- write out the sounds on pieces of paper, mix them up on a table, get one person to call out a sound and see who can SPLAT it the quickest.

Snap - write/ print out two sets of the sounds and play the classic snap game.

Use your environment - "Katie, pass me the eggs, hey we were learning the /e/ sound earlier, I hear /e/ in eggs!"

Keep it all short, simple and fun!