What is Phonics?

Phonics is a method of teaching children to read and is recognised worldwide as the most effective first strategy for teaching children to read.

Phonics works by breaking down words into their individual sounds. It works a bit like a code, once you know all the phonics sounds and their different spelling combinations then you are able to read 95% of the English language.

Children are taught to:

  • firstly understand that words are made up of different sounds blended together
  • start to recognise the simple sounds in words and be able to read them
  • be able to read simple, single letter sounded words such as cat – c,a,t.
  • Begin to identify that certain sounds have more than one letter – such as ‘ch’ or ‘ee’ or ‘ck’.
  • Start to be able to read longer and more complicated words by blending those sounds together from left to right to make a word.

A solid foundation in phonics allows children to then use this knowledge to ‘decode’ new words that they see or hear. This is the first important step to learning to read as it means instead of memorising 1,000’s of words, children are able to work out how to read words they have never seen before.

There are just 44 phonics sounds to learn so it is a very efficient method for early learners. There are numerous ‘phonics’ programs used in schools around the world, letters and sounds, read write ink to name just a few. Most however use synthetic phonics and do so by introducing the simple single letter sounds of the alphabet before introducing longer 2 or 3 letter sounds called diagraph’s and trigraphs. Check out our Phonics Codebreaker page for more information on this!

Or check out this webpage for a great free phonics parent guide.