3 Principles That Are Needed When Teaching Your Children Phonics

If you are teaching your children how to read, then teaching phonics and phonemic awareness are a necessity. Both are the keys to a successful reading program.  The phonemic awareness teaches the single sounds of letters while the phonics focuses on higher level blending and segmenting skills. A child who can master reading does so with knowledge of letter and their sounds and their connections to words. Once mastered your children will be fluent readers and spellers. It also increases their self-confidence and self-image.


There are three principles that are needed to teach reading to your children:

1) Read high interest words, sentences and stories.

2) You want reading to fun, rewarding and enjoyable. Making reading a chore sets the child up for failure, as reading will have a negative connotation for them. This does require some patience and creativity on the parents end.

3) Reading can only truly begin when the child has mastered phonemes- letter sounds.


The initial process of teaching phonemic awareness and phonics to your children requires them to learn letters and their sounds. Next they will combine letters and sounds in a logical way that creates words, followed with the reading of simple sentences and stories.

This is a logical sequence for your children to learn how to read, where they learn the importance of being accurate with decoding words and annunciating words. This technique of teaching helps children with the spelling skill set. Eventually, the continued exposure to the key points of phonics will lead to the creation and identification of new words and gives them an automatic reflex to reading, which allows them to focus and develop their comprehension skills.

Phonemic awareness is the key to developing a fluent reader, as they need to understand individual letters and their sounds before they can start to put the sounds together to make blends. You will want to begin with simple consonant letter vowel combinations before going onto the consonant digraphs- two letter sounds put together to make one sound or a long vowel sound such as “ch” or “sh”. This just reiterates the need for a logical sequence of teaching reading through phonemic awareness and phonics.

You can start by teaching your child the phoneme sounds. The order is not important as long as you cover all the letters in the alphabet. Another approach is teaching the most commonly used sounds of consonants and vowels. For example, start with the sounds /c/ /t/ /a/. With your child’s recently developed phonemic awareness skills, they can learn how to blend the letters to form words such as “at”, “tac” or “cat”.

Using the concept that short and sweet is the best use of time in lessons. More learned lessons makes for more letter and word combination to be discovered. Once words are abled to be formed start by putting them into simple sentences. Remember short and sweet lessons are no more then ten minutes and some can be as short as three minutes. These short lessons can be spread out throughout the day and end up totaling about fifteen minutes. Repetition is important with a young child’s short attention span.

You should remember how you like to learn things, the longer lesson the more boring it may become for your child. Don’t make reading a chore making fun and enjoyable. The short lesson keeps the child form being flooded with too much information and overwhelmed. Don’t move on to the next lesson until the current one is mastered. You should review the previous lesson to make sure mastery has occurred before heading into a new lesson.

Phonics can also be taught with the use and development listening skills.  By starting with the concept of sounds being small and individual and moving towards combing them to form different sounds and eventually words. All it takes is a couple a minutes a day consistently and some patience on your part.

The correct way to perform the beginning lessons is to sound out the words distinctly and slowly. This can be done without making it obvious to your child. You can take everyday words that are spoken around the house and use them for oral blending techniques in your sentences.

A good example would be asking your child to drink his cup of milk, you would say: “Billy, d-r-i-n-k your m-ilk.” The words milk and drink are slowly and distinctly sounded out. You will be setting the level of sound separation based your child’s progress.  So, if Billy doesn’t catch on that d-r-i-n-k means drink you can blend the letters “d” and “r” for the /dr/ sound.

You can also introduce new words by playing a blended sound game. You follow the same concept say the targeted words slowly and concisely and see if they can guess the targeted word.

You should understand that learning individual sounds to form words will take some time especially when the concept is new to your children. The rates at which children pick up on these concepts vary so don’t panic if you think your child is not getting it quick enough. Here are some samples blending words activities that you can use.

R-a-n                                                                                                 R-an

B-u-m-p                                                                                            B-ump

S-a-t                                                                                                  S-at

G-l-a-n-d                                                                                           Gl-and

T-i-l-t                                                                                                 T-ilt

C-r-o-p                                                                                              Cr-op

The first example is more segmented that the next word and will be harder to sound out as you are sounding our individual letter sounds. Note-hyphens are between the letters to designate where the sound break comes in.

i.e.: b-u-m-p  /b/ /u/ /m/ /p/

When you see the hyphens remember to says the sound associated with the letter and not the letter name. This is a great training in listening so your child can pick up these sounds when they are spoken and it also gives them the appropriate way to annunciate it. These concepts will be life lessons that your children will carry with them. These concepts should also with new or difficult words. Once again, remember you are teaching the skill and that you need to be supportive and patient as your child finds their way through the concepts. It may take days, weeks or months of patience, but exposure, consistency and frequency is what will make your child successful at learning to read.

We know that not everyone agrees on what works best to teach reading to children. Some people believe in the whole language approach while others believe in phonics. Every child who can speak can learn to read, the length of time it takes varies according to each child’s receptiveness to learning amongst other factors. Though it will mutually agree on that getting your children to read earlier in life is the best thing for their future success in school.