To be honest, I’ve always worked on letter recognition first with my kids. However, I have been told (repeatedly) from teachers that they should be learning letter phonics first. I find this very hard to do if the child doesn’t know the letter, so I’m learning to pair these goals together. Plus, phonics activities are hard to come by (and hard to come up with)!
In Canada, public education is the responsibility of the Provincial and Territorial governments. As in other countries there has been much debate on the value of phonics in teaching reading in English. However, in recent years phonics instruction has become much more evident. In fact, the curriculum of all of the Canadian provinces include most or all of the following: phonics, phonological awareness, segmenting and blending, decoding, phonemic awareness, graphophonic cues, and letter-sound relationships.[48][49][50][51][52][53][54][55][56][57] In addition, systematic phonics and synthetic phonics receive attention in some publications.[58][59][60] [61]
Phonics is a branch of linguistics where the sounds and physical properties of human speech sounds are studied. Phonics reading is highly essential in every child education. It is not uncommon to find parents who question the importance of phonics reading in the education of their children. Such parents believe that children will naturally master the different sounds of human speech since the ability to use language is innate in every human being. Their view may look plausible but they are not actually correct.
Students must also become familiar with digraphs, blends and diphthongs.  Digraphs are two-letter combinations that represent a single phoneme.  Blends are common consonant patterns of two and sometimes three letters that preserve the typical letter-sound relationships. Diphthongs are vowel combinations that when pronounced, produce a continuous vocal output in which the mouth, lips, and/or tongue position change midway through the pronunciation.

The American Federation of Teachers is a union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities. We are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially through the work our members do.


To understand the big picture, children must understand other concepts of print as well. Concepts of print are the many understandings about how print works, including that print serves specific purposes (e.g., to help us remember or to entertain us); that print is language written down; and that, in English, we read from left to right and from the top of the page to the bottom. All of these and other “mechanics” about how print works are important to learn alongside letters and sounds.


In the reading skills pyramid, a visual illustration of the process kids go through when learning to read, phonics follows closely behind phonemic awareness. Once children understand that letters have associated sounds, they begin to make relationships between those sounds and spelling. This is the skill that helps beginning readers decode — or sound out — new words. The key elements of reading are:
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.

In systematic or explicit phonics, students are taught the rules and the exceptions, they are not instructed to memorize words. Memorizing sight words and high frequency words has not been found to help fluency. Put Reading First adds that "although some readers may recognize words automatically in isolation or on a list, they may not read the same words fluently when the words appear in sentences in connected text. Instant or automatic word recognition is a necessary, but not sufficient, reading skill. Students who can read words in isolation quickly may not be able to automatically transfer this "speed and accuracy".[11]
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.

Montessori Letter Sounds works off of four stages for kids: I-Spy Games, Letter Sounds, Mix-n-Match, and Sound it Out. In each step, children will find a learning activity and a game to help them put their learning into practice. Self-correction is encouraged throughout the app to increase self-confidence. The system keeps track of marbles won by each player. Marbles are used to unlock games and levels and to stimulate learning.
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.
All reviews and articles on this site belong to Grove Publishing, Inc. unless otherwise identified. No review or article may be copied or reprinted without permission except for a single copy of a review made for temporary use AND not shared with others. Our organization does not engage in any solicitation activities in California specifically targeting potential customers residing in California (including distributing flyers, newsletters and other promotional materials, sending emails, initiating telephone calls or making referrals in person) that refer potential customers to the retailers with whom we have links.
For lots of children, their second year is the time when they really put all the phonics they know into practice, and learn to read longer and slightly more complex stories and non-fiction books. The focus in year 2 is not so much on using phonics for reading, as by now many children know most of the phonics they need. There’s more of a shift to using phonics for spelling, so that children use the phonics they know to help them work out how to spell a wider range of words. 			

ABCmouse.com’s phonics curriculum helps teach children the relationship between each letter of the alphabet and their sounds in a fun and interactive environment. With thousands of engaging learning activities, including games, books, songs, and more, and an award-winning preschool–kindergarten curriculum, your child will learn to love to read at ABCmouse.com.
Short vowels are the five single letter vowels, a, e, i, o, and u, when they produce the sounds /æ/ as in cat, /ɛ/ as in bet, /ɪ/ as in sit, /ɒ/ or /ɑ/ as in hot, and /ʌ/ as in cup. The term "short vowel" is historical, and meant that at one time (in Middle English) these vowels were pronounced for a particularly short period of time; currently, it means just that they are not diphthongs like the long vowels.
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.

Phonics Genius includes over 6,000 words grouped by phonics sound, so it is fully loaded to teach your child about phonics. The app includes several pages through which you can scroll and find the particular sound you want to work on. You can work on sounds as well as the beginning and ending of words. Phonics Genius provides three different modes of learning, in addition to multiple quiz modes designed as fun and interactive games. The quizzes are designed according to different levels of learning beginning with two words and range from easy to challenging. 

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.
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 meta-analysis revealed that systematic phonics instruction produces significant benefits for students in kindergarten through 6th grade and for children having difficulty learning to read. The ability to read and spell words was enhanced in kindergartners who received systematic beginning phonics instruction. First graders who were taught phonics systematically were better able to decode and spell, and they showed significant improvement in their ability to comprehend text. Older children receiving phonics instruction were better able to decode and spell words and to read text orally, but their comprehension of text was not significantly improved.

On 30 November 2004 Brendan Nelson, Minister for Education, Science and Training, established a National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy. The Inquiry examined the way reading is taught in schools, as well as the effectiveness of teacher education courses in preparing teachers for reading instruction. The first two recommendations of the Inquiry make clear the Committee's conviction about the need to base the teaching of reading on evidence and the importance of teaching systematic, explicit phonics within an integrated approach.[43]
Hooked on Phonics includes 12 steps; each teaches rimes and letter sounds to help kids build words. Within each step, videos with catchy songs introduce letter sounds and sight words, and games help kids build words using onsets and rimes. Kids practice reading immediately, starting with step one, using the three ebooks that correspond with each step. Lessons include all letter sounds, plus the rimes -at, -an, -ap, -ad, -am, -ag,  -ig, -id, -ig -ip, -im, -in, -ix, ill, -ot, -op, -ox, -ob, -og, -ug, -un, -ut, -ub, -up, -ed, -en, -et, -eg, and -ell. Adding s to words, the blend -ck, and reviews are also built in. Up to 25 kids can have usernames on each device, with their progress tracked step-by-step. If necessary, teachers can unlock all content at once rather than have kids progress through it sequentially. Rewards and extension sections are accessible by clicking the trophy at the bottom of the screen. Kids earn points by completing lessons and can buy items to embellish their trophies using those points. They can also practice writing sentences or stories using the words covered in the app.
In November 2010, a government white paper contained plans to train all primary school teachers in phonics.[38] In 2018, The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted), as part of its curriculum research has produced a YouTube video on Early Reading. It states "It is absolutely essential that every child master the phonic code as quickly as possible ... So, successful schools firstly teach phonics first, fast and furious." [39]
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.
Thus, the results of the analysis are indicative of what can be accomplished when explicit, systematic phonics programs are implemented in today's classrooms. Systematic phonics instruction has been used widely over a long period of time with positive results, and a variety of systematic phonics programs have proven effective with children of different ages, abilities, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
^ "National Reading Panel (NRP) – Publications and Materials – Summary Report". National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel. Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction (NIH Publication No. 00-4769). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. 2000. Archived from the original on 2010-06-10.
Also, I love that the experience of opening up the kit and progressing is fun for him. He calls it “my reading” and looks forward to pulling out the red box in the evenings after bath. He's working hard for the stickers and has only once swiped a few before they were earned. We are using this kit in a completely low-pressure environment, to get ahead – but I can imagine the ease of use and short, bite sized lessons would be great for a child who is catching up, as well – to build confidence.
I am using this product as a reading guide for my 2and 4 year Olds. My 4 year old absolutely loves it. I adjust our focus based on the knowledge that she already has. As a mom it makes me feel confident that I can teach her how to read. Prior to getting this I didn't know where to start. She already knew her abcs and letter sounds but we are doing the whole course anyway. I am mixing some more challenging lessons in so that she keeps her focus and then we go back to the 'easy stuff' to help her feel successful if she gets frustrated. I will start my 2 year old in a simplified version of the first lesson group in the fall. This product comes highly recommended.
×