Phonics Zoo books and audio cd.
Children are introduced to
phonics through music and movement.

Available in our online store

Phonics 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



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 as well.

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. Agree?

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 sake.

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 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 and easily.
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 song.
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.

Key elements 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.

Why Phonics?
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.

What about sight words?
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 approach?
• 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 cueing.

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 through literature.
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 and creativity.
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 together.
Nevertheless, the 43 sounds are adequate for beginning readers since the discrepancies are no more than 4 in number.

6. What is the focal point of STAR Phonics?

I. Word blend drills
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 it independently.

II. The literature selection

a. Gives children a theme to help remember the sound
b. Gives a context for the theme to be pursued
c. Gives a springboard for some space creative thinking & writing
d. Provides other linguistic input necessary for reading and comprehension.

Contributed by Florence Tan, licensed STAR phonics trainer


Florence Tan seen here with her hubby and three beautiful kids.
From left Jordan, 4yrs old, Isabelle, 8 yrs old, and Chloe, 5. (one more on the way by Oct 07)

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