Zoo books and audio
Children are introduced to
phonics through music and movement.
Available in our online store
with Kids – Personal Experience
Contributed by Florence
Tan, Star Phonics Licensed Trainer
Florence Tan is a licensed trainer
for Star Phonics, a Multiple-Intelligence based,
Whole Language reading programme. A parent of
3 pre-schoolers, Florence is experienced with
young children especially in developing innovative
way of teaching aids to make learning fun for
the child, and at the same time, promote stronger
bonds between parents and child. Formally a Public
Relations Consultant, Florence is now committed
in delivering the best and quality teaching resources
to parents and teachers. Florence is also equipped
with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration
from Ottawa University.
The following is her personal
account with introduction of phonics to children.
She conducts STAR phonics classes at various locations.
For more information, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Phonics is a common
enrichment programme parents are aware of these days.
Preschools have adopted this either as an enrichment
programme, or part of the English curriculum of the
school. So how important is this for the child?
Phonics is a “MUST” since
kids are expected to read when they start primary one.
So, there are hundreds of phonics programme out there
in the market. Some are short programmes, some claimed
phonics is an ongoing reading programme. What do you
think would be the best option?
As a parent of three young kids, I
find it a hassle having to chauffeur my kids through
and fro for classes since we have to work and sometimes,
there are programmes over the weekends which we have
to attend, and our child have to miss the class as a
result. Also, imagine if they have to attend a weeks’
school and still cannot enjoy weekend!! It’s a
tough commitment to make. Therefore, the shorter the
programme, the better for us parents. Having said that,
we do not want to compromise on the quality of the programme
either. Other factors include cost and effectiveness
Personally, I am particular in concepts.
I believe that the child should understand the logic
and concept behind everything in order to deliver whatever
is asked of for the subject. The common mistake is for
the child to memorize, this mistake is also common in
adults at times. We tend to memorize the steps and apply,
rather than understanding the concepts behind the steps.
There’s no perfect programme
nor materials you can depend on. Parents’ commitment
makes a whole world of difference. A common mistake
by parents is that they thought that the child can learn
independently with the “as easy as ABC”
material they purchase or through a once a week, 1hour
programme. In fact, you do not have to spend thousands
of dollars buying tons of books for your child to work
on. What you need to know is how to deliver the concepts
to your child. And if you really don’t know anything
about the subject, you should least learn about it or
select a program whereby the teacher is willing to share
and work with you together to guide your child during
the rest of the week. Not easy to find such teacher
though. It’s their rice bowl!!
My earlier experience of my child attending
phonics programme, and with the preschool she attends
wasn’t ideal. I realized that they learn about
sounds of the various letters only. My child can recite
the sounds from A-Z but when it comes to blending or
getting her to break down the words in order to read,
she has no idea how to do it. This is what parents should
take note. And she learns through memorizing, which
is one something I cannot accept. Memorizing that C-A-T
is Cat and D-O-G is Dog. And the moment you give her
a new word, she no longer can do the job, and she gets
frustrated when she can’t deliver.
That is why I decided to take up Star Phonics license
– to learn and to teach. I’d rather spend
the dollars on this, which could benefit my child better
since I’ll be able to guide my kids better. Now,
my kids love phonics and bug me for lesson everyday.
They treated me like a teacher, and even called me teacher
when we enter the teaching time. It’s role play
for them, and they enjoyed the home environment, proudly
showing off what they learn since their greatest contentment
is for their parents to know they did well. It creates
greater bonding between us too, and I’m clear
of her development and abilities. Best of all, I do
it at our own time, pace and leisure.
I now involve my 2 year old whom I
felt wasn’t ready for serious blending or reading
since it’s at no cost. However, she could at least
have some fun with music, story and craft work. Even
my one year old and husband could sit in for bonding
Above all, don’t force your child
to learn. You may blast him with everything, but don’t
expect him to deliver all. Give them time. When the
child is ready, taking off is going to smooth and fast.
Make learning stress-less and fun as it’s a lifelong
journey for all!
STAR PHONICS PROGRAM
Star Phonics is a 40 week course designed to teach reading
to young children between ages 4 to 7 years. The lessons
were developed by qualified language teachers and early
childhood educators at Nurture Craft Resource Centre
and reviewed by educators at the National Institute
of Education, Singapore.
Star Phonics uses well researched methods of teaching
and memory retention to help children learn quickly
Studies have provided conclusive evidence that we learn
better when various senses are stimulated. Memory retention
is also improved with the incorporation of a tune or
In the Star Phonics lessons we have incorporated the
multiple Intelligence based approach eg. music and movement,
art and craft to help children enjoy learning.
The primary focus of Star Phonics is to teach reading,
with a secondary emphasis on writing and creative expressions
through language use.
Throughout the course, children will be taught reading,
writing, speaking and listening.
of the course
• Phonemic awareness exercises
• Word blend drills
• Story time (literature based)
• Reading time (introducing sight words)
• Fun Time (Art & Craft, games)
What is it?
STAR Phonics was developed by a group of educationists
in 1996. Since then the programme has been receiving
excellent feedback for its simplicity and effectiveness
in teaching reading. Children love the sessions and
were always eagerly looking forward to more lessons.
At the core of the programme is a clever selection of
literature, games, crafts and music. Phonics is taught
in the context of stories.
Research has demonstrated that a strong understanding
of the relationship between letters and their sounds
is fundamental to learning to read. In the last 10 years,
more schools in the USA and Britain are moving towards
the teaching of phonics to improve literacy. In some
cases, dramatic improvement were achieved.
Knowing the phonic sounds early in life also helps the
child to develop proper spoken English. Many Asian adults
have poor enunciation of English because the correct
sounds of the letters were never learnt.
Developers of STAR Phonics are mindful that only about
80% of the English words can be pronounced using phonics.
Therefore, in each lesson, STAR Phonics also incorporate
the teaching of sight words (or whole words).
How effective is the lesson?
At STAR Phonics we use a systematic, structured approach.
Lessons do not start with A,B, C and so on. Research
has shown that the sounds S,A,T, I, P and N are easier
to make. The students can also start forming many simple
3-letter words with these letters. Students are rewarded
early and gain confidence as a result.
1. What is the
• Phonics is the direct association of sounds
to letters of any particular language.
2. I learnt to
read without Phonics. Why should I send my child for
a Phonics reading course?
• Phonics help children to understand that letters
are not random symbols. They are combined in specific
ways to communicate information
• However, Phonics is only one strategy used to
teach reading. It should be used in combination with
sight-word recognition and contextual as well as semantic
3. What differentiates
STAR Phonics from other Phonics courses?
I. Its a whole language approach. All 4
components of language (reading, writing, speaking,
listening) are developed from experience with language
II. Its use of music to introduce the sounds. Proven
to be the best way for children to remember. Phonics
Zoo has won the 'Parent's Choice' award.
III. Its use of phonemic awareness exercises to train
the linguistic ear.
IV. Its secondary emphases on vocabulary extension
V. Its variety of reinforcing exercises.
4. Why does STAR
Phonics not teach the sounds in an alphabetical order?
I. The sounds can be put together (blended)
from the earliest stage to form words. Word blend
exercises can thus be done early in the course.
II. The sounds that are easily confused are not taught
too close together.
5. Some people
say there are 44 or 46 sounds in the English Language.
Why does STAR Phonics only teach 43?
Even experts cannot come to a definite conclusion
on the number of sounds that exist in the English
language. The disagreements are mainly in deciding
whether some dipthongs should be considered a sound
on its own, or if they are merely 2 monophthongs put
Nevertheless, the 43 sounds are adequate for beginning
readers since the discrepancies are no more than 4
6. What is the
focal point of STAR Phonics?
a. Children develop phonemic awareness
in a systematic and progressive manner.
b. Individual sounds are 'blended together' to form
words. Children do this until they are able to do
II. The literature selection
a. Gives children a theme to help remember
b. Gives a context for the theme to be pursued
c. Gives a springboard for some space creative thinking
d. Provides other linguistic input necessary for
reading and comprehension.
Contributed by Florence Tan, licensed
STAR phonics trainer
Tan seen here with her hubby and three beautiful
From left Jordan, 4yrs old, Isabelle, 8 yrs old,
and Chloe, 5. (one more on the way by Oct 07)
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