We Know: How Phonics Works

What is the Phonics Method?

Phonics is a method of teaching beginners to read and pronounce words by learning to associate letters or letter groups with the sounds they represent. As practiced readers, adult readers seldom have to sound a new word out because we have memorized most words by sight. However, good phonetic skills are helpful for beginning readers who still need to "sound out" words.

Why do Phonics Work?

A phonetic approach to reading gives a child the tools to sound out words and read anything that is put before him or her. The phonics approach to reading teaches developmental readers to recognize the sounds that are made by various sets of letters. This enables them to look at a word, break it into the sounds that make it up, and then put the sounds together to creat the word.

Phonics or Sight Reading?

In the past, there has been a good deal of controversy over whether it is better to teach reading using phonics or sight words. Sight reading refers to memorizing individual words. As time has progressed, most of this controversy has died down, as most reading experts now accept that the best method of teaching involves using both sight reading and phonics together. No two students are alike, and some may have more success with one strategy than the other. Regardless, both sight reading and phonics impart good skills to developmental readers

Why are Phonics Important?

Studies show that about 40% of the population in America have reading problems severe enough to hinder their enjoyment of reading. These problems generally do not diminish over time, but persist into adulthood unless help is given. Teaching  children to read using phonics gives them the skills to read well and increases their enjoyment of reading.

When Can You Start Using Phonics?

It is so important to do everything you can to insure that your child is a good reader. Babies love hearing the sound of a parent's voice and looking at interesting pictures in books. As your child grows, if you continue reading aloud, she will develop a natural curiosity about reading. This is a perfect time to start introducing your child to phonics. Around the age of three or four children will begin to have an awareness of words and sentences. Children of this age can sometimes begin learning letters. By age four and five, some children may be ready to start breaking apart words into separate sounds.

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