To understand concept of word in print, children need to watch others reading print and pointing to words.6 In classrooms, this may be a teacher reading charts or big books to children and pointing to the words as they read. Teachers may also use pointers and sometimes ask children to point to words. In addition to watching others, children need to practice pointing to words themselves. A great way to do this is to allow children to point to words in a memorized line of print, in a dictated story of their own words, or in a simple book with short, repetitive sentences. Although it sounds like a really simple task, it is not. In fact, there are actually stages that occur as children learn to point to print. Specifically, they must gain control of multisyllabic words and show understanding that a word like elephant, with three syllables, is actually one unified word. When children cannot handle multisyllabic words, they will point to new words for each syllable in a word (e.g., if the text said “kittens cry,” the child would point at the word “kittens” for the syllable kit and then point at the word “cry” for the syllable tens).

Teachers should be able to assess the needs of the individual students and tailor instruction to meet specific needs. However, it is more common for phonics programs to present a fixed sequence of lessons scheduled from the beginning to the end of the school year. In light of this, teachers need to be flexible in their phonics instruction in order to adapt it to individual student needs.

In 1996 the California Department of Education took an increased interest in using phonics in schools.[26] And in 1997 the department called for grade one teaching in concepts about print, phonemic awareness, decoding and word recognition, and vocabulary and concept development. [27] Then, in 2014 the Department stated "Ensuring that children know how to decode regularly spelled one-syllable words by mid-first grade is crucial". It goes on to say that "Learners need to be phonemically aware (especially able to segment and blend phonemes)".[28] In grades two and three children receive explicit instruction in advanced phonic-analysis and reading multi-syllabic and more complex words.[29]
On the other hand, there is such a thing as too much phonics instruction. We have seen prekindergarten and kindergarten classrooms in which the better part of the day is focused on letter-sound instruction (and often in a manner inconsistent with what research would recommend). This is problematic because it leaves insufficient time for many other important areas of development. For example, vocabulary and concept knowledge, which are strong predictors of long-term reading and writing success, also need attention. In fact, vocabulary knowledge affects word-reading development. We sometimes cannot even know whether we have read a word accurately unless we already have the word in our vocabulary. Is the word lemic pronounced with a short e, like lemon, or a long e, like lemur? Unless you already know this word, you aren’t sure. For children trying to learn to read words with low vocabulary knowledge, such uncertainty is common.

Vowel digraphs are those spelling patterns wherein two letters are used to represent a vowel sound. The ai in sail is a vowel digraph. Because the first letter in a vowel digraph sometimes says its long vowel sound, as in sail, some phonics programmes once taught that "when two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking." This convention has been almost universally discarded, owing to the many non-examples. The au spelling of the /ɔː/ sound and the oo spelling of the /uː/ and /ʊ/ sounds do not follow this pattern.

There has been a strong debate in France on the teaching of phonics ("méthode syllabique") versus whole language ("méthode globale"). After the 1990s, supporters of the later started defending a so-called "mixed method" in which approaches from both methods are used. France is home to some of the most influential researchers in psycho-pedagogy, cognitive sciences and neurosciences, such as Stanislas Dehaene and Michel Fayol. These researchers have studied the problem from the perspective of their sciences and put their heavy scientific weight on the side of phonics.


Sifting through the various educational options can be confusing as parents try to find the best fit for their child and budget. Time4Learning shares Hooked On Phonics® belief in the importance of engaging children and the significance of phonics. Many families like Time4Learning’s convenience, appeal to the children, and educational effectiveness. Time4Learning’s approach integrates phonics into a broad language arts (and math) curriculum. Parents can decide how much of the extensive program to use since Time4Learning is student-paced.
^ Turner, Camilla (4 December 2017). "Reading standards in England are best in a generation, new international test results show". The Telegraph. Retrieved 11 December 2017. The international study of nine to ten year-olds’ reading ability in 50 countries showed that England has risen to joint 8th place in 2016, thanks to a statistically significant rise in our average score
Embedded phonics is the type of phonics instruction used in whole language programmes. Although phonics skills are de-emphasised in whole language programmes, some teachers include phonics "mini-lessons" in the context of literature. Short lessons are included based on phonics elements that students are having trouble with, or on a new or difficult phonics pattern that appears in a class reading assignment. The focus on meaning is generally maintained, but the mini-lesson provides some time for focus on individual sounds and the symbols that represent them. Embedded phonics differs from other methods in that the instruction is always in the context of literature rather than in separate lessons, and the skills to be taught are identified opportunistically rather than systematically.

Sifting through the various educational options can be confusing as parents try to find the best fit for their child and budget. Time4Learning shares Hooked On Phonics® belief in the importance of engaging children and the significance of phonics. Many families like Time4Learning’s convenience, appeal to the children, and educational effectiveness. Time4Learning’s approach integrates phonics into a broad language arts (and math) curriculum. Parents can decide how much of the extensive program to use since Time4Learning is student-paced.
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