In the UK, Jolly Phonics is introduced as a reading and writing scheme for 4-5 year old children and although many of us have had some success introducing the programme in the first year of preschool (3 year olds), it can actually be better to wait until the children are a bit older for them to be able to gain the knowledge necessary to be able to put their (new) skills into practice.
Jolly Phonics uses 5 core skills that are fundamental to the effective teaching of reading, writing and spelling and whilst I applaud parents, teachers and schools for implementing the method at home or at school with Very Young Learners, it is not always used as effectively as it should be, which can then have negative effects on the students grasp of the very complicated English Alphabetical Code and reading and writing in the future.
The Jolly Phonics Handbook is based on the first year of a formal literacy programme and is designed for 4-5 year old children (or beginners). The rate of introduction of the letter sounds should be between 2-4 per week, although external factors such as hours of English sessions per week and the age of the students should also be taken into consideration.
As there are 42 letter sounds to introduce in the first year or Handbook, even if one or two sounds are introduced on a weekly basis, you will still work through the vast majority, if not all of the sounds within 9 months.
What needs to be avoided is introducing and revising the Jolly Phonics Handbook or 42 letter sounds over the course of 2-3 years. Why? Because, the children will forget the letter sounds that they have learned over time, leading to sessions that are dedicated to revision of the sounds rather than progressing forwards with reading and writing. It is not enough to introduce the Jolly Songs and actions, which are used primarily as Mnemonic techniques for the first few weeks or months of the programme, not as tools for reading, writing or spelling.
For more information on using a synthetic phonics programme with young learners at home or in a school then please contact Beki Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.