A Guide to Teaching Phonics

Teachers and parents alike should work together to facilitate a child’s learning, especially during the child’s early development years. In this guide, I will share some vital information on how to effectively teach phonics.

Phonics: What are they?

To put it simply: phonics has to do with teaching students about the alphabet and how it works. After a child memorizes the alphabet, the next step is to learn how to read. Phonics is the method of teaching the awareness and understanding of how letters, when put together, form words.

Reading and writing are milestones that have to be developed through time, and it starts in early childhood. Phonics helps bridge the gap between reading and writing. Mastery of both skills will help children become good readers and writers.

Once students develop phonemic awareness (the awareness of the relationship between letters and the words they form), they will learn how to read faster and more fluently.

How to Teach Phonics: The Three Stages

  1. Pre-phonics Stage: 

Children should master a few skills before being taught phonics. These skills are listening, sound reproduction, and sequencing. Listening skills can be developed by playing games such as Simon Says. Sound reproduction can be developed by having the child mimic a sound you make while paying attention to the shape of the mouth when they make the sound themselves. Sequencing has to do with following the order of letter sounds in each word. Mastering these skills will facilitate their learning.

  • Sounds and Actions

Use actions and sounds that can be associated with letter sounds to help students remember them. For example, when teaching students the sound of the letter “b,” teachers can do the act of dribbling a ball. There are many simple sounds and movements that teachers and parents could use. 

  • Letter and Sounds

At this stage, students have to be taught the difference between letter sounds and names. Some letters can have more than one sound. This can be taught through stories and flashcards that show that the same letter can be used differently. For example, show a flashcard of the word “cat “and “ceiling.” When teaching these to children, teachers should try to speak slowly and sound out the letters 

Teaching Strategies

Teaching phonics is exceptionally detail-oriented and plan-intensive. Children do not have the longest attention span, so it’s best to plan your lessons to maximize the learning opportunity.

  1. Keep phonics lessons under 20 minutes long.
  2. Devote 10-15 minutes to phonics every day. To help children develop the habit and practice of reading, it is better to maintain short but consistent sessions. This will help them build a routine that they can bring with them as they get older.
  3. When teaching a class, maintain a good pace to cover all required topics. To help students who are falling behind, you may opt to revisit lessons. Keep lessons interesting by using various learning materials like games, flashcards, and outdoor activities. There are apps and tools that students can use to learn.