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 tools they need to sound out words. For example, kids learn that the letter D has the sound of /d/ as in doll. Down the road, they'll learn how to combine letter sounds together to make words like dog.
As children advance as readers, they must be able to eventually blend letter sounds, without stumbling over words. Phonics helps set a foundation for that process.
In preschool and the beginning of kindergarten, the beginner reading curriculum is usually focused on phonological awareness and learning to recognize letters (upper and lowercase) and learning the sound of each letter. This focus on sound and letter awareness sets children up for success in learning phonics skills. Usually, around halfway through kindergarten, children move on to blending simple words and begin to work toward building automaticity.
Research suggests that the most effective phonics instruction is systematic, sequential, and explicit. Teachers give preschoolers 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 those in the Peppa Pig Phonics Book 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 class, 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 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 practice phonics as well as cultivate a lifelong love of reading.
Find more expert-approved books, tips, and resources to help strengthen your preschooler's skills in our guide to getting ready for kindergarten.
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