Help your child learn to read with phonics


Woman reading to child

Parents helping their child learn to read with phonics often ask why it uses letter sounds and not names?

Letter names don't always sound the same as the actual sounds.

For instance, the letter name for B is pronounced with a long E sound after the letter sound: we say 'bee', but that's not the same as the letter sound. 

Many children find this difference confusing. So, instead of trying to teach the two at the same time, it is helpful to focus on teaching the letter sound first.


How should I introduce the 44 sounds to my child?

Method 1

The 44 sounds are usually taught in this order:

s a t p i n
m d g o c k/ck
e u r h b f
l j v w x y
z qu ch sh th ng
ai ee igh/ie oa oo (short) oo (long)
ar or ur/er ow/ou oi
air ear ure

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Sounding out words is at the heart of phonics, and it is therefore a simple and straightforward way of teaching that you can use confidently at home.

You could introduce the sounds one at a time.

As soon as your child has learned the first four sounds, they can start to read.

Using phoneme cards can be a helpful way to introduce the sounds.

Show a card to your child and say the sound. Ask your child to say it as well. This will help to build a link between a letter and its associated sound.

Using the sounds to read (blending)

You can teach your child to 'push' (or blend) the sounds together to make words by saying each of the sounds in the word and then pushing them together to say the word.

Using the sounds to write (segmenting)

Encourage your child to use their new-found knowledge of sounds to begin to spell, by working out the individual sounds in a word and matching these sounds to the letters.

Say a word and ask your child to break into its individual sounds. For example: pig, p i g. This technique is known as oral segmenting.

When your child is ready to write the word down, encourage them to tap out each sound before they write it. This helps children to maintain the correct sequence of letters.

Method 2

Father reading to sonAnother approach is to practise phonics when reading with your child. Here is a step-by-step method for practising phonics while reading:

  • Encourage your child to point to each letter and say the sounds out loud.
  • Encourage your child to read these words by blending the separate sounds together.

Tricky words

Encourage your child to read the 'tricky words'. Tricky words contain letters that don't represent their normal sounds and these are taught separately. Children can use their phonics to help them read part of the words, but tricky parts will need to be learned by sight.

Check understanding

Ask your child questions about the story you've been reading together to check they are understanding the words.

For books to practise phonics at home, search 'Phonics Bug' in the Amazon Book Store.

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Last updated: over 1 year ago