Phonics involves the relationship between sounds and their spellings. The goal of phonics instruction is to teach students the most common sound-spelling relationships so that they can decode, or sound out, words. This decoding ability is a crucial element in reading success. Phonics instruction plays a key role in helping students comprehend text. It helps the student map sounds onto spellings, thus enabling them to decode words. Decoding words helps in the development of word recognition, which in turn increases reading fluency. Reading fluency improves reading comprehension because when students are no longer struggling with decoding words, they can concentrate on making meaning from the text. Phonics instruction improves spelling ability because it emphasizes spelling patterns that become familiar from reading. Studies show that half of all English words can be spelled with phonics rules that relate to one letter to one sound. Explicit instruction is the most effective type of phonics instruction, especially for children at risk for reading difficulties.
The following is a list of some ways you can help strengthen your child’s phonics skills:
- Make letters in fun ways with paint, play with clay, sticks, sugar, or sand.
- Look for letters wherever you go. Examples: signs, cereal boxes, book covers.
- Look at letters, say the letter name, say the letter sound, then say a word that begins with that sound.
- Make flash cards. Play letter games such as Memory or Go Fish with letters or sounds, and when you find a match, say a word that begins with that matched sound. Play Tic-Tac-Toe using letters other than X and O.
- Start with simple words, like bat. Write the word on a piece of paper, point to the first letters and ask for the sound. Continue with each subsequent letter.
- Go on a letter hunt. Write a letter on top of a paper, like b. Look for all of the words of objects around the house that begin with that letter or sound. Draw pictures or write words.
(Source: Scholastic.com/teachers/article/understand-phonics; Involving Parents in Their Children’s Reading Development by Bruce Johnson, published by Treasure Bay)