Improve reading and writing skills

Ask any parent, teacher or child: learning to read and write is not always an easy task. “The English language is very complicated,” says Rodney Everson, creator of the Reading on track phonetics program. “Many letters represent many sounds.” For example, the letter “n” is always pronounced the same way, whether it is read in the words run, runner, gnat or know. However, the letter /a/ can be pronounced /a/ as in pomme, /ay/ as in cape, /ah/ as in wash, /uh/ as in was, or sometimes the letter /a/ is not heard to everything, as in the word bec — or heard.

“There is a common misconception that reading comes naturally,” says Everson. “Reading doesn’t come naturally, and that’s why it’s crucial to teach phonics at a young age.”

Whether a child has difficulty reading or this is their first introduction to letter sounds, phonics helps children learn to read and write by correlating sounds with letters or groups of letters to form words. Here’s what you need to know about letter sounds and the best methods for teaching phonics to kids, according to experts.

“Phonics involves matching the sounds of spoken English with individual letters or groups of letters,” explains Judy Araujo, a reading specialist In Boston. “There are 44 sounds – or phonemes – in English, but there are many ways to represent sounds. For example, the sound /k/ can be written as “c”, “k”, “ck” or “ch” as in Noël and as in bouquet.

With such a complex concept, it’s best to simply explain phonics to children, suggests Everson. “I’ll start a phonics lesson by drawing a traffic light: a red circle at the top and a green circle at the bottom of the rectangle,” describes Everson. “I’ll say ‘the red circle is code for quit, and the green circle is code for leave.’ If we didn’t understand the codes for these lights, we would be faced with a real disaster at an intersection. Phonetics is simply the code for pronouncing each letter of the alphabet.

Sight words – that is, words that can only be recognized by memorization rather than by sound – are particularly tricky – like “the,” “where,” or “do.” “Nevertheless, encourage your child to use phonics to decode decodable word parts,” says Araujo. “For example, for “said”, /s/ and /d/ can be decoded. The child should remember /ai/ as having the short sound /e/ in this case.

Teaching phonics to children has its challenges. “Just be patient,” advises Arajuo. “Repetition is key.”

Teaching phonics to children paves the way for lifelong benefit. “By connecting the pronunciation and meaning of words to their spelling, we create neural pathways that allow us to remember written words,” says Arajuo. “Once a developing reader has looked at a word carefully several times, said it, and understood what the word means, the written form is remembered.”

“Keep lessons simple and fun,” suggests Cynthia Seeley, a reading teacher and mother of two in Lake Wylie, South Carolina. “Don’t try to cover too many letter sounds in one go: one is enough. But introduce high-frequency words that your child sees every day, like “mommy,” “daddy,” “cat,” or “dog.”

Keep the following steps in mind when introducing phonics to your child, Seeley recommends.

5 steps to teaching phonics

1. Introduce the sounds of each consonant in the alphabet.

Omit vowels first, as they are more complex than consonants.

2. Teach short vowels.

Once the child has mastered the sound of each consonant, you can teach him the short vowels of /a/, /e/, /i/ and /o/. Keep /y/ as a consonant only for now.

3. Practice the three-letter “CVC” words.

Next, practice using three-letter consonant/vowel/consonant (CVC) words, such as “cat,” “bed,” “pin,” and “log.”

4. Teach letter digraphs.

Once you have mastered CVC words, you can move on to teaching letter digraphs, which are blends of two consonants at the beginning or end of a word. The list of digraphs is as follows: bl, br, ch, ck, cl, cr, dr, fl, fr, gh, gl, gr, ng, ph, pl, pr, qu, sc, sh, sk, sl, sm, sn, sp, st, sw, th, tr, tw, wh and wr. For example, “close”, “crush”, “cut” and “with”.

5. Add long vowels.

Finally, add long vowels, plus /y/. Such as “cake”, “bead”, “hive”, “joke”, “tube” and “baby”.

Now that you know the order in which to teach letter sounds, here are some exciting tips and tricks to keep your child engaged during a reading lesson.

Try Flash Cards

When introducing letter sounds, Seeley loves using flash cards. “Sometimes we make an alphabet train with the cards,” she notes, explaining that each card has a letter of the alphabet on it and is placed in a long line on the floor. If the child knows the sound of the letter, he can return the card otherwise, the letter remains facing upwards. Continue playing until the child correctly identifies the 26 letters of the alphabet and their phonetic sounds.

Use sticky notes

Seeley suggests labeling common items around the house or car with a sticky note to encourage reading throughout the day. “Label everything – from the simplest words like sink and cup to more difficult words like chair and light – seeing these words every day will make a huge difference in their ability to read and decode words,” she points out.

To play hide and seek

“Incorporating familiar games that your child already loves is a great way to practice letter sounds,” notes Seeley. “Take the flash cards and hide them around the house. Have your child play hide and seek to find the flash card that matches the sound of the letter you are saying,” recommends Seeley.

Try sight bingo

For more delicate reading concepts, like sight wordsyou can make a sight bingo game to practice identifying these difficult words. “Fill a blank bingo card with common words and say the word out loud while the child searches for the correct one until they fill their board,” advises Seeley.

Read rhyming books together

Rhyming books with simple CVC words – think Dr. Seuss’ “Hop on Pop” – are great for reinforcing letter sounds. “And when the book is finished, you can go back and forth with the child to find more rhyming words and practice letter sounds,” says Seeley.

“Reading mastery comes with a lot of practice,” says Everson. “Try to work on phonics with your child every day. » Here are some interesting ways to keep your child excited about learning to read.


There are countless online games which are useful for teaching letter sounds, phonics awareness and sight words. “Some of the popular electronic games are Leap Frog, Star Fall and,” says Seeley.


In addition to flash cards, there are turn and read letter blocks, the movable alphabet and a timeless classic: Scrabble. These games will keep your child engaged and excited about reading.


Grab a library card and check out some simple CVC or rhyming books. Dr. Seuss, BOB Books, and the “I Can Read” series are some popular choices among emerging readers.

Professional help

A professional will be able to discern whether your child has a reading disorder, such as dyslexia, or not. At the first signs of reading difficulty, make sure you’re on the same page as your child’s teacher,” suggests Seeley. “There are reading specialists, tutors and additional help from your child’s teacher at their disposal.

Everson also advises making an appointment with the optometrist. According to American Optometric Association25% of all children have a vision problem significant enough to impact their learning.

When you start teaching your child phonics, the possibilities are endless for practicing reading and sounding words all over the place. In addition to reading labels at the grocery store and turning on closed captioning while your child watches their favorite TV show, you can make letter and word recognition a regular practice. “Read aloud to your child daily,” suggests Araujo. “Show the signs in the community and on cereal boxes (words your child may know) and discuss the letters and their sounds. »

As Seeley notes, repetition can make all the difference, noting, “Like anything a child wants to get better at: practice, practice, practice.” »


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