Reading Phonics: Everything You Need to Know


  1. What is phonics?
  2. What are the types of phonics?
  3. How can I teach my child phonics and reading?
  4. What are the best phonics programs?


As an adult, when you see a new or difficult word, you probably feel a little confused to start with and then your brain starts to do something wonderful: it begins to sound each syllable out from start to finish until you have some semblance of a full and perfectly pronounced word. Or so you hope 😉 

The sounds that your brain is telling you to make for each letter or syllable occur because you learned phonics as a child 👶kid reading in library

What is phonics? 


In a nutshell, phonics is a way of teaching children how to read. It helps children connect spoken sounds to the respective written letters and, in turn, helps them learn more difficult words later. Learning how to read phonics is an essential part of any child’s education as it helps develop the invaluable skills of reading and writing. The reason you know how to read the word ‘cat’ is because you were taught how to make certain sounds when you saw those three letters together 🐱 

There are 44 sounds to learn in phonics (also called phonemes, if you will), almost double the number of letters in the alphabet which shows that not only is learning your ABCs important, but so is reading phonics 🔤


What are the types of phonics?


There are four ways to approach phonics:

  • Synthetic phonics

This phonics method starts with assigning letters (graphemes) to their associated sounds (phonemes). From here, students build up to learning full words by joining and blending those sounds.  

  • Analytic phonics 

This approach is different to the synthetic type in that you start with the word and then try to identify the phonemes. Often, the focus is homed in on the beginning and end phonemes.  

  • Analogy phonics

Using the sounds they already know, students can use this method to build on their existing phoneme knowledge and learn more unfamiliar words by recognition. 

  • Embedded phonics

This method involves teaching students various letter-sound relationships during reading sessions.  

While many studies advise that taking the synthetic phonics route is the best bet to getting your little ones off to a winning start, a number of educators believe that all four methods should be employed at home and in the classroom to ensure children are benefitting from a more comprehensive approach, and by starting with synthetic phonics (basically, the basics), this is the best segue into exploring the other three methods. 


How can I teach my child phonics and reading? 


  • For beginners, alphabet flashcards are excellent – and fun! – way to teach your child the various sounds and letters, plus, the animations will help them make relationships between words and pictures.
  • Read with your child and listen to how they make sounds. Encourage them when they get words right, and if they stumble, gently correct them and keep going – it can only lead to better reading! Take it in turns to read so that they can hear how you say words too.
  • Once children become more familiar with the letters and their corresponding sounds, make a fun word chart and see how many words they can think of that start with each letter of the alphabet. Maybe do a few letters in each session to avoid burnout and boredom 💤
  • Reading phonics doesn’t always need to come from books, take your classroom outdoors! Shop signs, street signs, flyers, posters – these all make for super phonics inspiration! Next time you’re in the supermarket, ask your child to help you find certain products which will require them to study the labels and packaging. Bonus? Shopping is done in the half the time 😉
  • Does your child like cooking? Maybe they can help you follow the recipe for your next kitchen sesh 🍳 Not only will this help their reading skills, but they’ll also learn new vocabulary for food, kitchen utensils and measurements. Yes, chef! 👩‍🍳
  • Accessibility is key so make sure to leave as many reading materials around the house as possible; magazines, books, booklets – especially ones aimed at their own hobbies and interests – the more the merrier! Where there are words, there is wisdom to be found 🎓

What are the best phonics programmes?


  • From home study kits to interactive games, let your child become the best phonics reader with these recommended phonics programs from the premier reference site, ThoughtCo.
  • Progressive Phonics provides a free assortment of books that teaches all the key sounds your child needs to learn while also telling fun, illustrated stories. Activity worksheets are provided and can be used alongside for extra enjoyment!
  • Boasting an award-winning series of games, and with a super-fun name to boot, Teach Your Monster to Read is one of our favourite phonics teaching methods and will really boost your child’s skills. 
  • Lalilo provides students with personalised exercises that are fun and interactive – what are you waiting for?

So next time you’re struggling (and then, of course, succeeding) with those nifty 14-syllable ingredients on the back of your food wrapper, remember that the journey of phonics is ongoing so give your child the best possible start 😇