Why You Should Use Phonics in Your Child’s Early Reading Instruction

Why You Should Use Phonics in Your Child’s Early Reading Instruction

Read­ing com­pre­hen­sion involves recog­ni­tion of words and asso­ci­at­ing them with con­cepts to develop mean­ing­ful ideas. Chil­dren develop wider read­ing habits by under­stand­ing let­ters that rep­re­sent spe­cific sounds and spellings that are related to speech sounds in sys­tem­atic ways.

Chil­dren who are not taught phon­ics grow up to be adults who can never be hired for any­thing other than a minimum-wage job. They will never be assim­i­lated into our econ­omy and achieve the Amer­i­can dream.” ~ Phyl­lis Schlafly

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Read­ing com­pre­hen­sion is a com­plex process, made up of inter­re­lated sub-processes, where words must be rec­og­nized and asso­ci­ated with con­cepts to develop mean­ing­ful ideas. Lower-level sub-processes must be devel­oped to exe­cute them with­out direct atten­tion. Expos­ing words in iso­la­tion, expos­ing words in sen­tences, match­ing words to pic­tures, read­ing words in sen­tence strips, or fill­ing words in sen­tences are strate­gies that work well when the word cor­pus is small. How­ever, chil­dren pay lit­tle atten­tion to con­stituent parts as such strate­gies involve rote asso­ci­a­tions. Chil­dren are unable to keep up as the num­ber of words grows.

Phon­ics refers to letter-sound rela­tion­ships; let­ters rep­re­sent spe­cific sounds and spellings are related to speech sounds in sys­tem­atic ways. Research has shown that a slow starter rarely becomes a strong reader. Chil­dren, who learn the code and how-to decode early, develop wider read­ing habits that pro­vide fur­ther oppor­tu­ni­ties for learn­ing vocab­u­lary, under­stand­ing con­cepts and writ­ing. The Matthew effect sug­gests that the “rich get richer” and the “poor get poorer” in this phenomenon.

Phone­mics aware­ness and alpha­bet skills go hand in hand. Start with con­so­nant sounds fol­lowed by short and long vowel sounds. Use pic­ture cues to start read­ing with phon­ics. Use phonics-based read­ing pro­grams to strengthen your child’s abil­ity to read. Intro­duc­ing phon­ics to your child will rein­force sound-symbol rela­tion­ships within the alphabet.


Beck, I. (2006). Mak­ing Sense of Phon­ics: the Hows and Whys. Guil­ford Pub­li­ca­tions, Inc. New York, New York.

Crane, K. & Law, K. (2009). Phon­ics. Teacher Cre­ated Resources, Inc. West­min­ster, California.


Literacy Skills