BlogParenting ResourcesHow to Teach Phonics to Kids – A Step By Step Guide

    How to Teach Phonics to Kids – A Step By Step Guide

    Have you ever wondered why educationists emphasize so much on teaching phonics to children? Phonics is an essential skill for reading, writing, and spelling. It assists children in identifying the sounds that letters of the alphabet make, teaching them how to put these sounds together to build words.

    Phonics games for kids help in learn alphabets and recognize the sounds that each letter makes. It moves on to understand phonemic segmentation, grapheme–phoneme knowledge, decoding, and spelling skills. 

    Let’s explore in this article various easy and effective ways to teach phonics to kids at home.

    Why Is Phonics Important?

    The word Fab written with cartoon kids playing with the letters

    Teaching phonics helps students identify the underlying sounds as they read and spell words, which helps them understand how words are formed and constructed. With knowledge of phonics, confidence in reading improves in kids because they are better able to decode unfamiliar words and recognize patterns in language.

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    Phonics also provides a good base for understanding other concepts such as:

    • VocabularyBeing able to sound out words helps children recognize new words they encounter, which expands their knowledge of the language.
    • Comprehension: Knowing phonics allows a child to read faster and focus more on what the text is saying instead of trying to figure out what each word says.
    • Syllables: As children learn how to break down bigger words into smaller syllables, it becomes easier for them when they are writing.
    • Common spelling rules: The knowledge of phonics helps students to apply the spelling rules like ‘i before e except after c’ correctly.
    • Grammar: Knowing how to blend sounds helps children understand how to construct sentences and paragraphs.
    Related Reading: Important Levels of Phonemic Awareness

    How To Teach Reading Using Phonics at School?

    Spelling list put on a wall showing letter symbols and their sounds

    In a classroom, children are taught phonics in a systematic sequence. They first learn the letter names, followed by the sounds of each letter. Then teachers introduce them to two or three-letter combinations like ‘sh’, ‘ch’, and ‘oo’.

    After teaching the basics of letters and their sounds, children begin to learn phonics rules. This helps them to recognize how sounds blend to form words.

    A very effective way to teach reading using phonics is by making use of educational games and activities that engage children in learning. Online reading games, sentence arrangement games, or similar ELA games for kids can be useful in the process. Teachers can also make use of fun online phonics games, songs, interactive worksheets for kids, and stories to help kids learn. Some of the approaches teachers can use for teaching phonics to students are:

    • Synthetic Phonics: This approach focuses on teaching children to ‘blend’ the different sounds in a word together, such as ‘c’, ‘a’, and ‘t’ to make the word ‘cat’. Combining different sounds to form words builds a child’s confidence in reading.

    It involves explicit and rote learning of English language rules. Coding and decoding language and systematic learning of phonemes and graphemes enable children to read even if they don’t understand its context.

    • Analytic Phonics: This approach focuses on teaching children to break down words into individual sounds, such as breaking the word ‘pen’ into ‘p’, ‘e’, and ‘n’. Short vowels, long vowels, and silent e are also introduced to children.

    When students learn to break down whole words into parts, they start learning the rules of the language by reading books and trying to figure out their meanings. They start guessing what a word can mean through inference. Understanding word patterns, rhyme, and analogy helps children to get to the context of why a word is used. 

    • Analogy-Based Phonics: This method relies on teaching children the patterns of words that have similar sounds and spellings. They learn how to use word families they know to decode unknown words.

    For example, ‘cab’, ‘dab’, and ‘jab’ all sound similar at the end of each word. This helps students recognize patterns in language and understand how certain letters form different sounds.

    Related Reading: How Phonological Awareness Helps Kids Develop Early Reading & Writing Skills

    A Step-by-Step Plan To Teach Phonics to Your Preschooler

    A little girl pointing an alphabet chart with pictures

    Here’s the step-by-step guide for teaching Phonics at home to your preschooler:

    1. Start with phonemic awareness

    Best english games, where the focus is on speech sounds (phonemes) in spoken words instead of letter symbols, are great tools to teach phonemic awareness. Once kids start identifying phonemes, they can move on to the basics of phonics.

    2. Introduce letters and sounds

    This is when kids start learning the letter names and their associated sounds. Since your preschooler is already aware of phonemes, they can start learning how to identify the letter symbols and the beginning sounds of spoken words. You can use flashcards or sand letters to exercise auditory learning, visual learning, and sensory memory of your child for better retention.

    3. Use the knowledge of phonics to build words

    At this stage, kids can start learning to arrange speech sounds and letter symbols in a specific order to form words. You can use online phonics activities or storybooks that introduce multiple letter-sound combinations to help them learn.

    4. Help kids use the knowledge of phonics to decode new words

    After learning the word-building process, preschoolers can move on to more complex things like decoding unknown words. You can use the analogy-based approach to teach your child the patterns of words with similar sounds and spellings.

    5. Instill a love for reading

    At this point, it is important to motivate your preschooler to read independently. You can start by introducing books that are simple to read and understand. When they get used to reading on their own, you can slowly increase the difficulty level. You can also encourage them to explore various kinds of literature, such as comics and magazines.

    With these steps, your preschooler will be able to confidently read and write words in no time! All that is required from you is a little patience and some fun activities for kids.

    Related Reading: Signs of Phonological Disorder in Kids & How to Deal with It

    How To Learn Phonics Beyond the Basics?

    Animal alphabet typography

    Here are some more ideas on how to advance in phonics once the little ones master the basics:

    Phonemic segmentation learning ideas

    Segmenting can be improved by having your child listen to a word and break it into individual sounds. You can also use word ladders or word wheels to practice the segmentation of words.

    In a word ladder, your child will have to identify the initial sound of a word and then move to other words with the same starting and ending sounds.

    In a word wheel, your child will have to first identify the beginning sound of a word and then move on to other words with the same ending sound.

    How to acquire grapheme-phoneme knowledge?

    Grapheme-phoneme knowledge can be taught through worksheets and games. Worksheets help children practice their letter sounds and apply them to reading, writing, and spelling activities.

    Games are great ways to engage kids in the learning process. You can create your own cards, dice, or boards. The goal is to help your child learn how certain letter symbols make different sounds.

    Phonemic blending activities

    Blending activities involve the child taking multiple sounds and combining them to form a word. These activities include rhyming games or matching games, where children match letter symbols to words they hear.

    Digraphs and trigraphs activities are also excellent ways to practice phonemic blending. In these activities, children will have to recognize how two or three-letter symbols combine to make a single sound. You can introduce this concept through word search activities, where children have to find words with digraphs or trigraphs.

    You should also introduce your kids to diphthongs, i.e. sounds that involve two vowels together. You can practice this concept through activities where your child has to identify words with diphthongs in them. Diphthong matching or completion activities are great for this purpose.

    Decoding and Encoding: The bridge between reading and writing

    Decoding and encoding are two important concepts in phonics. Decoding involves converting written words into their component sounds, while encoding requires children to create a written word from its sound components. To practice these concepts, you can use online games or books with activities that require your child to match words with pictures or draw a picture according to the sound of a given word.

    How to teach young kids how to spell?

    Word scrambles and crossword puzzles are great activities to help children practice their spelling by having them identify the letters in a given word. You can also use games such as Hangman or Boggle to further enhance your child’s spelling skills.

    Related Reading: Best Reading Websites For Kids

    How to Teach Phonics at Home Effortlessly?

    Word jumbles and puzzles

    Teaching phonics at home does not have to be a tedious task. A set of alphabet cards in uppercase as well as lowercase can be used to help your child recognize the different letters of the alphabet.

    You can also create interactive activities such as matching cards, which require children to match pictures and words that start with a given letter. Other interactive activities include word jumbles, word search puzzles, and memory games that encourage children to recall sounds from words they have heard before.

    Letter combination cards (with digraphs, trigraphs, and diphthongs) can also be used to help children learn how combinations of letters create different sounds. You can shuffle these cards and ask your child to create words out of the letter combinations.

    Fill in the blanks activities are great for helping children recognize words and their sounds. In these activities, your child must fill in the missing letters of a given word. C-V-C (Consonant-Vowel-Consonant) words, such as pop, mop, and top, are great for this type of activity. They can be played in groups using a blackboard and chalk, a whiteboard and a marker, or a sandbox where kids can write using their fingers!

    Replacing one letter in a word to make a new word (such as replacing ‘c’ in ‘cat’ with ‘h’ to make the word ‘hat’) is also a great exercise for your child. As young learners play this game, they are learning how to spell words, recognize letter combinations and their sounds, and understand the importance of word structure.

    Finally, you can make phonics fun by using songs and poems that have words with different letter combinations. Having your child recite poems for kids will help them become more aware of the difference between long and short vowels, as well as consonant blends and digraphs. Some of the best phonics songs for young kids you can find online include:

    • CVC and Simple Words Phonic Songs
    • Consonant Digraphs and Blends Phonic Songs
    • Diphthongs and Vowel Digraphs Songs
    • Phonics Sounds Songs
    • Rhyming Songs
    • R controlled Vowels Phonics Songs
    • Short and Long Vowel Songs
    • Silent and Magic E Phonics Songs
    • Syllable Songs

    Do not forget to read books with your child! Reading is a great activity for children to gain knowledge and practice their phonics skills. You can start with telling bedtime stories to kids and then, letting them taking lead in reading familiar stories. This will boost their confidence, as well as their understanding of sounds and words.


    A variety of activities and games can make teaching phonics to children fun, interesting, and engaging. From word searches and letter matching to filling in the blanks and replacing letters to make new words, there are plenty of activities that can help your child understand phonics. With a bit of imagination and creativity, learning phonics can be an enjoyable experience for both you and your kids!

    Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

    How much time should I devote to each stage of phonics?

    It depends on your child’s age, learning style, and pace. At each step, provide enough practice for your child to master the letter or sound before introducing new materials.

    What strategies can I use to help my child retain what they learn?

    Repetition is the key! Use activities that involve repeating words, such as word jumbles, fill-in-the-blanks, and matching games. Additionally, you can create visual aids, such as flashcards and letter or combination cards, to help your child recall words and their sounds.

    How to turn learning phonics into a family game?

    Playing board games like Scrabble and Boggle are great ideas for family game nights. You can also create word searches and crossword puzzles for your child online or on paper. Finally, songs and poems are great ways to get your family involved in learning phonics!

    Ursula Cruz
    Ursula Cruz writes on the subject of integration of technology in classrooms and the intersection of education and child development. In her free time, she likes going on hikes with her dog, Lucy.

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