If you're the parent of a beginning reader, chances are you're hearing a lot about phonics. Here's what you need to know about how your child will learn phonics, and how you can help teach phonics at home.
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What exactly is phonics?
Phonics is knowing that sounds and letters have a relationship. In other words, it is the link between what we say and what we can read and write. Phonics offers beginning readers the strategies they need to sound out words. For example, kids learn that the letter D has the sound of "d" as in "doll." Then they learn how to blend letter sounds together to make words like dog.
Why is it important?
The ultimate goal of reading is good comprehension. But in order for kids to understand what they read, they must be able to do it quickly and automatically, without stumbling over words. Phonics facilitates that process.
How does your child's school teach phonics?
Systematically and sequentially. Teachers give children plenty of practice before moving on. Your child will read short, easy books, containing the particular letter sounds or words they're working on. You can help them practice by providing similar books at home, such as this BOB Books Beginning Readers box set.
Here are more ways you can reinforce phonics learning at home:
- Team up with the teacher. Ask how you can highlight phonics and reading outside of school, and share any concerns you have.
- Listen to your child read daily. If your child stumbles on a word, encourage them to sound it out. But if they still can't get it, provide the word so they don't get discouraged.
- Boost comprehension. Ask questions like, "What do you think will happen next?" or "What did he mean by that?" Here are more great questions to ask during story time.
- Revisit familiar books. It's okay if your child wants to re-read favorite books from earlier years. In fact, it's actually beneficial!
- Read aloud. Choose books on topics that excite your child (get great suggestions from our numerous book lists), and read with gusto, using different voices for each character.
- Spread the joy. Show your child how much you value reading by having plenty of books and magazines around the house. You'll teach phonics as well as cultivate a lifelong love of reading.
Shop the best phonics resources for kids below, or check out these phonics sets based on your child's favorite characters.