At the very core of phonics lies the alphabet. In order to master phonics a person must master the alphabet. Letters then need to be connected to their corresponding sounds. As we know as English speakers, this is easier said than done. Many letters can represent a number of different sounds. Thus learning phonics is an ongoing process for a developing reader.

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The primary vowels are like this as well. We would have been much better off if they were named by their short sounds (/a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, and /u/, as in pat, pet, pit, pot, and putt), because those are more common in the words read by beginning readers than their long vowel sounds (the letters’ names)—but no such luck. Letter names are also challenging for young readers because they aren’t consistent in whether the commonly associated sound is at the beginning or end of the name. For example, in Mm/“em,” the letter’s target sound is at the end of the letter name, but in Jj/“jay,” the target sound is at the beginning. That means for letter names to help children, they must memorize whether the target sound is at the beginning or end of the name.
Increase the difficulty by focusing on vowels and combinations. Eventually, you can move on to having the child sort pictures according to their medial sound represented by their vowel pattern — for instance: /e/: seal, peas, read, team, wheel; /o/: boat, coat, toad, road. Likewise, you can have them sort according to the words’ beginning digraphs — such as: chair, cherries, shoe, sheep, thread, three, wheat, whiskers.[8]
In order to have a true understanding of the purpose and function of letters and letter sounds, children must understand how words are represented in print, or concept of word.5 This means they know that words are collections of letters that represent a series of speech sounds that collectively represent a unit of meaning. They need to understand that each new word is signified by a space that does not contain any letters. They need to understand that you can see a word as well as say a word.
Our field has long had a problem with teachers devoting an inadequate amount of time to phonics instruction. Although some children will pick up word reading with little instructional effort, many require considerable instruction to master the complex task of looking at a series of lines and curves to ascertain the spoken word they represent. In languages in which there is a relatively simple relationship between letters and sounds, such as Finnish and Spanish, by the middle of first grade, children are able to read real words and pseudo-words in the language accurately almost 100 percent of the time.* In languages in which the relationships are somewhat more complex, such as Danish and French, children are about 70 percent accurate by that time point. In English, in which the relationship between letters and sounds is extremely complex, children are about 40 percent accurate at that point.2 Put another way, English word reading requires a lot more effort to teach and learn than many other languages.

Although conventional wisdom has suggested that kindergarten students might not be ready for phonics instruction, this assumption was not supported by the data. The effects of systematic early phonics instruction were significant and substantial in kindergarten and the 1st grade, indicating that systematic phonics programs should be implemented at those age and grade levels.


To understand the big picture, children must understand the alphabetic principle—how our English system of writing works. The alphabetic principle is simply that visual symbols (letters) represent speech sounds (phonemes). To write the spoken word “dog,” you use alphabetic symbols to represent the speech sounds. We can combine and recombine letter symbols to form words. As odd as it may sound, children can learn letters and even letter sounds in very rote ways without understanding the alphabetic system. When children do not understand the alphabetic principle, they may do the following: 									

Therefore, 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 aids in the development of word recognition, which in turn increases reading fluency. Reading fluency improves reading comprehension because as students are no longer struggling with decoding words, they can concentrate on making meaning from the text.
The company built a successful business based upon significant advertising, leading to sales of over $100M per year. The product, along with its catchphrase "Hooked on Phonics worked for me!" (spoken by children in the product's television ads) and its telephone number "1-800-ABCDEFG" (now belonging to the Wilshire Law Firm), became widely recognized during the mid-1990s.[3]
Systematic synthetic phonics instruction (see table for definition) had a positive and significant effect on disabled readers' reading skills. These children improved substantially in their ability to read words and showed significant, albeit small, gains in their ability to process text as a result of systematic synthetic phonics instruction. This type of phonics instruction benefits both students with learning disabilities and low-achieving students who are not disabled. Moreover, systematic synthetic phonics instruction was significantly more effective in improving low socioeconomic status (SES) children's alphabetic knowledge and word reading skills than instructional approaches that were less focused on these initial reading skills.
Phonics is one of the primary building blocks of reading. Without an understanding of the relationship between letters and sounds, reading cannot occur. This multifaceted connection between print and pronunciation is an important component of any instructional program in reading because it provides readers with tools for discovering new written words.
Phonics reading is also necessary for the improvement of a child's reading comprehension. It is impossible for somebody to understand a word that is not properly pronounced. When a child learns how to pronounce a word very well, the child will be able to comprehend what he or she reads. Reading comprehension is another benefit that can be derived from phonics reading. Phonics reading will also help a child in acquiring more vocabulary on daily basis. When a child is able to pronounce a word correctly, the child will be able to understand the word. Children normally use in their words that they understand in their daily speech.

However, it’s not uncommon for year 2 children to need to revisit phonics they’ve learnt in year 1, so don’t worry if your child isn’t completely confident yet. It’s a good idea to talk to their teacher to find out if there’s a particular way you could support your child and give them practice with the aspect of phonics they’re finding difficult. The key thing is not to let your child get stressed or upset – keep reading and phonic sessions short and fun, and don’t forget to praise them for having a go, as well as when they get things right!
After they’ve gained phonemic awareness and early phonics skills, students move even closer to learning to read. With Time4Learning, 1st graders begin learning phonics online by translating syllables into words and focusing on phonetic spelling strategies. In 2nd grade, students advance their phonics knowledge by decoding multisyllabic words and recognizing word roots, prefixes and suffixes.
Phonemic awareness involves the understanding of the relationship between sounds and words. It explains how words are made of sounds that can be used, like reusable building blocks, to construct words (h + at = hat, f + at = fat, etc). Phonics goes one step further by connecting those sounds to written symbols. It involves learning how letters or letter groups represent unique sounds, and how those sounds are blended to form a word.

Although the patterns are inconsistent, when English spelling rules take into account syllable structure, phonetics, etymology and accents, there are dozens of rules that are 75% or more reliable.[9] It should be noted, however, that this level of reliability can only be achieved by extending the rules far outside the domain of phonics, which deals with letter-sound correspondences, and into the morphophonemic and morphological domains. For an estimate of the reliability of strictly phonic rules, we still cannot do much better than the 1963 study by Theodore Clymer.[10]


Short vowel+consonant patterns involve the spelling of the sounds /k/ as in peek, /dʒ/ as in stage, and /tʃ/ as in speech. These sounds each have two possible spellings at the end of a word, ck and k for /k/, dge and ge for /dʒ/, and tch and ch for /tʃ/. The spelling is determined by the type of vowel that precedes the sound. If a short vowel precedes the sound, the former spelling is used, as in pick, judge, and match. If a short vowel does not precede the sound, the latter spelling is used, as in took, barge, and launch.
However, we suggest that the answer also varies by child and should be informed by simple diagnostic assessments. Some children are able to develop letter-sound knowledge more quickly and efficiently than others. This is one reason why differentiated phonics instruction is so well advised. Some instruction is provided to the whole class, but then it is reinforced and gaps are filled in as needed in a small-group context. Research has shown that reading achievement is supported when instruction is differentiated.3 A number of researchers have developed systems by which assessments determine which letter-sound relationships each child has learned and not yet learned, and a systematic series of lessons are provided accordingly.4 An important direction for our field is to work toward determining the most time-efficient approaches to ensuring each child in a class meets grade-level expectations in word reading each year.
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In point of fact, letter-sound information amalgamates the word’s units into memory better than any other process. When we teach high-frequency words, we need to fully analyze the letter-sound relationships within them, whether the word is comprised of expected letter-sound relationships, as in can (/k/, /a/, and /n/, just as we would expect); some expected and some unexpected letter-sound relationships, as in said (/s/ and /d/ are as expected, /ai/ would normally represent the long a, not the short e, sound); or entirely unexpected letter-sound relationships, such as of (/uv/). Nearly two-thirds of high-frequency words are actually very regular (e.g., at, in, it), but even with those that are not, we need to fully analyze the letter-sound relationships as well as read them accurately many times. We suggest studying each letter’s association with each sound, relating the word to other words with the same letter-sound patterns when possible (e.g., no, go, so), and teaching high-frequency words alongside meaningful words (e.g., like with bike).
We often observe phonics instruction that has some strengths but also some gaps. Effective phonics instruction is multifaceted. You’ve likely already heard about the need for explicit instruction. Explicit instruction is direct, precise, and unambiguous (e.g., telling children what sound the letters sh represent together, rather than making the connection indirectly or asking them to figure it out themselves). You probably also realize the need to apply general learning principles (e.g., specific feedback). Some other facets that must be present are:
I recommend getting Level 1 First as this is the second half and goes off of things that should have been learned in the first set. I bought this first and then ended up buying the other one and putting this one away for a while. This is a great set of activities do get kids excited about letters and letter sounds. My daughter is 2 and a half and is already learning letters and phonics. I highly recommend this! And she loves the star stickers that go on the workbook pages when she completes a page. The only thing I don't like is that the alphabet song they play isn't the one I grew up hearing. I also got this for $10 less than the msrp!
In 1984, the National Academy of Education commissioned a report on the status of research and instructional practices in reading education, Becoming a Nation of Readers.[20] Among other results, the report includes the finding that phonics instruction improves children's ability to identify words. It reports that useful phonics strategies include teaching children the sounds of letters in isolation and in words, and teaching them to blend the sounds of letters together to produce approximate pronunciations of words. It also states that phonics instruction should occur in conjunction with opportunities to identify words in meaningful sentences and stories.

After they’ve gained phonemic awareness and early phonics skills, students move even closer to learning to read. With Time4Learning, 1st graders begin learning phonics online by translating syllables into words and focusing on phonetic spelling strategies. In 2nd grade, students advance their phonics knowledge by decoding multisyllabic words and recognizing word roots, prefixes and suffixes.
Once they’ve learned to read words with the most common letter-sound combinations, in year or primary 1 children move on to learn lots alternative combinations. They practise reading increasingly complex words. By the time they finish their first year, most children will be well on the way to reading pretty much any familiar word in English! In their second year, children develop their skills still further, practising using phonics to read and spell words that are less familiar and more challenging.
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Phonics instruction should be explicit rather than implicit. Implicit instruction relies on readers "discovering" clues about sound-spelling relationships; good readers can do this, but poor readers are not likely to do so. Explicit instruction is the most effective type of phonics instruction, especially for children at risk for reading difficulties.
In order to have a true understanding of the purpose and function of letters and letter sounds, children must understand how words are represented in print, or concept of word.5 This means they know that words are collections of letters that represent a series of speech sounds that collectively represent a unit of meaning. They need to understand that each new word is signified by a space that does not contain any letters. They need to understand that you can see a word as well as say a word.
Phonics for Reading is a research validated program that focuses on decoding, encoding (writing), fluency, and comprehension skills usually mastered in grades K to 3. The program uses explicit, teacher-directed instruction to introduce skills and strategies. Participants will learn the science behind the program as well as how to implement the program.
Children have problem in reading because they are not able to recognize the sounds of the letters of the alphabet in the words they read. Phonics reading will help children to recognize and associate sounds of the letters of the alphabet in the word they read. This will help them to improve in their reading skills and efficiency. In other words, it will be difficult for a child to improve in his reading skills if the teaching of phonics is removed from their curriculum.
As a homeschool Mom to 4 kids, one with dyslexia, I have been delightfully surprised with how excellent HOP is! My third child is only just 3, but I have been very pleased with his progress in a short amount of time. We are using the very first level which teaches the letter names and sounds as well as the skill of rhyming. Rhyming can be very challenging for some children, but after a couple of weeks of casual practice just using HOP, he's already excelling at it.
Phonics instruction must be informed by our ongoing observation and assessment of children’s phonics knowledge and word-reading skills. We should respond when we notice that a child is confused, is insecure with a particular skill, or has had a major breakthrough. If we are not responsive to our students, some students are likely to be left behind in their word-reading development.

Imagine going to work for a shipbuilding company. You go to work the first day and are schooled in all the different types of bolts, screws, and nails. You learn their names, the different sizes, and the different types, but you never learn that their purpose is to join pieces of metal and that those pieces of metal are used to build ships! Although this situation is clearly ridiculous, it is actually analogous to what we see in some prekindergarten and kindergarten classrooms. Children are being taught to name letters or even identify the sounds that the letters represent, but they are unclear about why they are learning it. Letter-sound knowledge is being learned in a vacuum; the child has no context for how to use the information, no “big picture.”
In 1990, Congress asked the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to compile a list of available programs on beginning reading instruction, evaluating each in terms of the effectiveness of its phonics component. As part of this requirement, the ED asked Dr. Marilyn J. Adams to produce a report on the role of phonics instruction in beginning reading, which resulted in her 1994 book Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print.[15] In the book, Adams asserted that existing scientific research supported that phonics is an effective method for teaching students to read at the word level. Adams argued strongly that the phonics and the whole language advocates are both right, and that phonics is an effective way to teach students the alphabetic code, building their skills in decoding unknown words. By learning the alphabetic code early, she argued, students can quickly free up mental energy they had used for word analysis and devote this mental effort to meaning, leading to stronger comprehension earlier in elementary school. Thus, she concluded, phonics instruction is a necessary component of reading instruction, but not sufficient by itself to teach children to read. This result matched the overall goal of whole language instruction and supported the use of phonics for a particular subset of reading skills, especially in the earliest stages of reading instruction. Yet the argument about how to teach reading, eventually known as "the Great Debate," continued unabated.
Consonant digraphs are those spellings wherein two letters are used to represent a single consonant phoneme. The most common consonant digraphs are ch for /tʃ/, ng for /ŋ/, ph for /f/, sh for /ʃ/, th for /θ/ and /ð/. Letter combinations like wr for /r/ and kn for /n/ are technically also consonant digraphs, although they are so rare that they are sometimes considered patterns with "silent letters".
The correspondence between letters and sounds presents itself in several different ways. While letters remain the same, sound comes in different units: syllables, onsets and rimes and phonemes. Each syllable is made up of an onset, a rime or a combination of both. An onset is any consonants presented before a vowel in a syllable. For example, in the word “star”/st/ is the onset. Conversely a rime is any vowel and consonant(s) following an onset. In “star”/ar/ is the rime. Phonemes are the small units of sound that make up a word. While “star” consists of only one syllable, it contains four different phonemes: /s/ /t/ /a/ /r/.

Your child will probably learn phonics in kindergarten through second grade. In kindergarten, children usually learn the sounds of the consonant letters (all letters except the vowels a, e, i, o, and u). First- and second-graders typically learn all the sounds of letters, letter combinations, and word parts (such as “ing” and “ed”). They practice reading and spelling words containing those letters and patterns. Second-graders typically review and practice the phonics skills they have learned to make spelling and reading smooth and automatic.
As children become readers, they need to understand and use the relationship between letters and sounds to read words.[1] Phonics requires knowledge of letter recognition, sound recognition, and their associations. This means that children must recognize letters in words, and then produce their corresponding sounds to read words. Fortunately, there are fun activities that you can do with your child to promote phonics!
The National Research Council re-examined the question of how best to teach reading to children (among other questions in education) and in 1998 published the results in the Prevention of Reading Difficulties in Young Children.[21] The National Research Council's findings largely matched those of Adams. They concluded that phonics is a very effective way to teach children to read at the word level, more effective than what is known as the "embedded phonics" approach of whole language (where phonics was taught opportunistically in the context of literature). They found that phonics instruction must be systematic (following a sequence of increasingly challenging phonics patterns) and explicit (teaching students precisely how the patterns worked, e.g., "this is b, it stands for the /b/ sound").[22]
Your child will probably learn phonics in kindergarten through second grade. In kindergarten, children usually learn the sounds of the consonant letters (all letters except the vowels a, e, i, o, and u). First- and second-graders typically learn all the sounds of letters, letter combinations, and word parts (such as “ing” and “ed”). They practice reading and spelling words containing those letters and patterns. Second-graders typically review and practice the phonics skills they have learned to make spelling and reading smooth and automatic.
Jolly Phonics is a comprehensive programme, based on the proven, fun and muliti-sensory synthetic phonics method that gets children reading and writing from an early age. This means that we teach letter sounds as opposed to the alphabet. These 42 letter sounds are phonic building blocks that children, with the right tools, use to decode the English language. When reading a word, they recognise the letters and blend together the respective sounds; when writing a word they identify the sounds and write down the corresponding letters. These skills are called blending and segmenting. These are two of the five skills that children need to master phonics:

The correspondence between letters and sounds presents itself in several different ways. While letters remain the same, sound comes in different units: syllables, onsets and rimes and phonemes. Each syllable is made up of an onset, a rime or a combination of both. An onset is any consonants presented before a vowel in a syllable. For example, in the word “star”/st/ is the onset. Conversely a rime is any vowel and consonant(s) following an onset. In “star”/ar/ is the rime. Phonemes are the small units of sound that make up a word. While “star” consists of only one syllable, it contains four different phonemes: /s/ /t/ /a/ /r/.
Short vowel+consonant patterns involve the spelling of the sounds /k/ as in peek, /dʒ/ as in stage, and /tʃ/ as in speech. These sounds each have two possible spellings at the end of a word, ck and k for /k/, dge and ge for /dʒ/, and tch and ch for /tʃ/. The spelling is determined by the type of vowel that precedes the sound. If a short vowel precedes the sound, the former spelling is used, as in pick, judge, and match. If a short vowel does not precede the sound, the latter spelling is used, as in took, barge, and launch.
English has absorbed many words from other languages throughout its history, usually without changing the spelling of those words. As a result, the written form of English includes the spelling patterns of many languages (Old English, Old Norse, Norman French, Classical Latin and Greek, as well as numerous modern languages) superimposed upon one another.[7] These overlapping spelling patterns mean that in many cases the same sound can be spelled differently and the same spelling can represent different sounds. However, the spelling patterns usually follow certain conventions.[8] In addition, the Great Vowel Shift, a historical linguistic process in which the quality of many vowels in English changed while the spelling remained as it was, greatly diminished the transparency of English spelling in relation to pronunciation.
When you child ‘checks out’ a book, they can choose between “Read to Me” or “Read by Myself”. What I love the most is that they can switch mid-book. If they’re reading alone and find they are struggling with a word, they can switch to “Read to Me” for that page only. Your child can build confidence and develop reading independence at their own pace.

In 1990, Congress asked the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to compile a list of available programs on beginning reading instruction, evaluating each in terms of the effectiveness of its phonics component. As part of this requirement, the ED asked Dr. Marilyn J. Adams to produce a report on the role of phonics instruction in beginning reading, which resulted in her 1994 book Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print.[15] In the book, Adams asserted that existing scientific research supported that phonics is an effective method for teaching students to read at the word level. Adams argued strongly that the phonics and the whole language advocates are both right, and that phonics is an effective way to teach students the alphabetic code, building their skills in decoding unknown words. By learning the alphabetic code early, she argued, students can quickly free up mental energy they had used for word analysis and devote this mental effort to meaning, leading to stronger comprehension earlier in elementary school. Thus, she concluded, phonics instruction is a necessary component of reading instruction, but not sufficient by itself to teach children to read. This result matched the overall goal of whole language instruction and supported the use of phonics for a particular subset of reading skills, especially in the earliest stages of reading instruction. Yet the argument about how to teach reading, eventually known as "the Great Debate," continued unabated.


Hooked on Phonics®* was broadly marketed on television in the eighties and nineties building a public awareness of phonics and how important it was to “hook” or engage children in education. Hooked on Phonics® provides parents a way to help their kids learn to read using a combination of flash cards, books, and interactive CDs. HOP’s television marketing campaign the 80s and 90s made Hooked On Phonics® a household name.
Teach letter names before teaching the sounds of the letters.  It is easier for students to learn the sounds for those letters that contain their sound in the initial position in their names (b,d,j,k,p,t,v,z), followed by those letters whose sounds are embedded within the letter’s name (f,l,m,n,r,s,x), leaving for last those letters whose sounds are not found in the letter’s name (h, w, y).
In addition, it is not clear how many months or years a phonics program should continue. If phonics has been systematically taught in kindergarten and 1st grade, should it continue to be emphasized in 2nd grade and beyond? How long should single instruction sessions last? How much ground should be covered in a program? Specifically, how many letter-sound relations should be taught, and how many different ways of using these relations to read and write words should be practiced for the benefits of phonics to be maximized? These questions remain for future research.
Nell K. Duke is a professor of language, literacy, and culture, and a professor in the combined program in education and psychology, at the University of Michigan. Her work focuses on early literacy development, particularly among children living in poverty. Heidi Anne E. Mesmer is a professor of literacy in the School of Education at Virginia Tech. A former third-grade teacher, her work focuses on beginning reading materials and text difficulty.

Owing to the shifting debate over time (see "History and Controversy" below), many school systems, such as California's, have made major changes in the method they have used to teach early reading. Today, most[which?] teachers combine phonics with the elements of whole language that focus on reading comprehension. Adams[15] and the National Reading Panel advocate for a comprehensive reading programme that includes several different sub-skills, based on scientific research. This combined approach is sometimes called balanced literacy, although some researchers assert that balanced literacy is merely whole language called by another name.[16] Proponents of various approaches generally agree that a combined approach is important.[citation needed] A few stalwarts favour isolated instruction in Synthetic phonics and introduction to reading comprehension only after children have mastered sound-symbol correspondences. On the other side, some whole language supporters are unyielding in arguing that phonics should be taught little, if at all. [17]
Dig right into phonics books to give him a head start in reading comprehension. Many phonics programs include books that are written specifically for beginning readers. Sit down for some one-on-one time to tackle letter sounds and sight words. You can make reading fun for him, which will make him look forward to sitting down with a good book in the future.
Most poor readers tend to rely so heavily on one reading strategy, such as the use of context and picture clues, that they exclude other strategies that might be more appropriate. To become skilled, fluent readers, children need to have a repertoire of strategies to draw on. These strategies include using a knowledge of sound-spelling relationships — in other words, an understanding of phonics. In addition, research has shown that skilled readers attend to almost every word in a sentence and process the letters that compose each of these words.
In the articles below, you will get answers to these questions and more. You will learn the facts about phonics, why learning phonics is important for your child, how to tell if your child’s teacher includes phonics in his beginning reading program and what the most recent research on phonics says. You can also test your own phonics knowledge with our phonics quiz and explore further resources on phonics.
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