A few weeks ago we were invited to attend a class run by Jo at Sounds Right Phonics Dartford. I was really excited to be invited to this session as I am a big believer in encouraging speech for little ones.
We are very lucky that my daughter Holly (aged 2) has always been very good with her communication and I think this has been assisted by the vast amount of classes we have attended together. But this class was different, this was a class making me realise that my little girl is getting older and edging ever so closer to school.
Sounds Right Phonics focuses on the sounds of each letter. Traditionally we were taught ABC, however these days it’s all about phonics. You may have seen programme which encourage this on the likes of CBeebies.
We attended the ‘Sounds Right Phonics’ class which took place in the Orchard Shopping Centre in Dartford. Parking was really easy to navigate in the shopping centre car park, and toilets are conveniently located very close by to the ‘Meeting Place’ (where the class is held) which can be found opposite Boots.
Word of caution whilst visiting the toilets. As mentioned I have Holly who is two but also my son who is 11 months old, which means I come with a buggy as well. I originally noticed the baby change area but you need to intercom to access and it wasn’t answered so I ended up squeezing (and I really mean squeezing) into a cubicle with the three of us. So either allow more time to wait for the intercom to be answered or prepare yourself!
After the adventure in the toilets we were ready. The ‘Meeting Place’ is an open space in the shopping centre so I immediately spotted Jo which was very helpful. We had a little chat about the class and I was really pleased when I saw Holly interacting and playing with the other children so confidently.
The class is set up in a way to encourage the children to sit on the mats with Jo and then the parents all watch on from the seating behind. I haven’t attended a class set up in this way before, but as this class is for 2.5 – 4 years old’s, I thought it was an excellent way to start encouraging independence with the likes of pre-school’s and school looming.
At 10:45 the class began with a traditional welcome song. You can always tell if a class is regularly enjoyed if the children are signing along and performing all the actions and I’m happy to say this was the case in Jo’s class. The children were invited to find their names on a small card which they then popped through a letter box. Again instilling further skills required for school, being able to recognise their names.
Jo then moved on to a song which revealed the theme of the class, and today it was C and K. Jo explained that whilst they are different letters they had the same sound. The rest of the session had been set up perfectly in this activity. The children knew what to expect and were ready to move on.
As they had been sitting for a while at this point they were encouraged to jump up and shake about. Whilst I appreciate that phonics is all about sounds etc, it’s great to have some movement in the class as the children just wouldn’t be able to hold their concentration, especially when there is a range of ages in the class.
Each of the songs all inspired improvement of coordination as they were challenged to turn, balance and hop. The smiles on the children’s faces highlighted how much fun this part was and to Jo’s credit I was really surprised at how well they settled down for the next section.
It was time for the class mascot to make his appearance! Robot Reg was making his cheeky entry into the session by playing hide and seek with the children. Creating anticipation and even more fun the children were hooked. It was their mission to wake up Robert Reg and I am pretty sure if anyone was sleeping nearby the Orchard Shopping Centre, they would have been woken up with the enthusiasm by some of the children in the class!
Once fully awake, Robot Reg had an important task to do, learning was in full swing at this point with phonics firmly at the centre. Using the speech of the robot, Jo easily broke down all the words (linking back to the C and K sounds) for the children to sound out.
I have to say this part of the class was a real eye opener for me. I have always spoken to Holly very clearly, however it never really entered my mind to break words down in this way so she could begin to appreciate sounds and letters. Not only is this a great class for the children, but I think it was also very useful for parents to understand the way to teach your children as well. I don’t know if I should say this or not, but I didn’t quite know how to correctly pronounce some of the letters, probably over thinking it, but that’s why this is class is important. If we attended this class not only would Holly be learning, which will greatly aid her in school, but I will also have more confidence in supporting her home learning. Winning all around!
After a number of other games still incorporating the phonics themes it was time for a disco – again proving the opportunity for movement. Liam had been in the buggy for the whole class as it wasn’t really suitable for him, fortunately I had a supply of snacks, but he really enjoyed this part. With light on the wall and pom poms shaking around, it was more visual for him.
Then Jo introduced something I haven’t seen in a class before and not wanting to give away all of the little extras, all I will say is it’s an activity that all children absolutely love and not always something you want out at home. When you attend a class, let me know what you think the special activity was!
Then all of a sudden it was time for the class to end. Singing well known nursery rhymes and handing out stickers was a great way to wrap up.
I would really recommend this class if you have a little one preparing for school or pre-school. It really does create a fun learning environment. It wasn’t really appropriate for younger children below 2.5 years, so if like me you do have a younger child as well, perhaps look into the younger class as well for them as there would be great benefits is starting even younger. And if that’s not an option and you need to bring them along, just prepare with some distractions for them.
Jo is so approachable so if you do have any questions or would like to book, please do contact her directly and I really hope you enjoy your classes like we did!