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Three Methods Parents can Use to Build their Child's Phonics Skills

written by: Sandy Fleming • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 8/2/2012

Phonics is the surest path to literacy! Here are practical ways for parents to give young children a boost in early phonics skills.

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    One of the great advantages to reading aloud with young children is that there are so many things to be learned! Phonics is one area that you can explore with extension activities as you share stories with kids.

    Phonics is simply learning about how letters go together to make words. The first steps to understanding phonics are to learn about the sounds of our language (which is called ‘phonemic awareness’) and to discover how words are similar and different. Try these extension activities when you read aloud from time to time and your child will learn about letters, sounds and word construction.

    Finish It!

    When you read a rhyming book, try stopping before the end of a line or a section and see if your child can fill in the missing word or words. Talk together about what makes words rhyme (the same ending sounds), and generate a list of words that could go in the blank. It’s OK if your child wants to be nonsensical; sometimes that is loads of fun, and it still builds awareness of the sounds of the language.

    You can also try this activity with a familiar prose book. Read a passage, and then stop before a word that has a lot of rhymes. Give your child a clue about the missing word, such as “It starts with /s/ and it rhymes with ‘hat.’” This activity builds two kinds of skills:knowledge of word sounds as you work with rhymes and also memory for the story when you work with a prose piece.

    Play I Spy

    Take this classic children’s game to new levels when you play it with books. Start with pictures (“I spy something red”) and then move on to words (“I spy a word that rhymes with ‘look’” or “I spy a word that starts with a B”). When your child gets good at the simpler versions of the game, try adding extra clues to process, such as “I spy a word that has two syllables (or parts) and it starts with a W” or “I spy a word that has three sounds with an A in the middle.” This game teaches young children how to pay attention to details and specific attributes. It will help them with finding answers in text in later school years.

    Phonics Contest

    Give your child a sound to listen for as you read, such as words that start with B or have the long E sound. Make sure there’s paper handy to keep a tally of how many times that sound shows up in the story or section that you’re reading. You can compare two different types of sounds, or sounds in different parts of the words (such as beginning or ending /d/ sound) and see which is more common in that passage.

Make the Most of Read-Aloud Time

Reading aloud is a great way to introduce your child to the world of reading, but it's also the perfect opportunity to build a host of vital skills. Discover how to get the most mileage out of your read-aloud time with your child!
  1. Encourage Learning During Read Aloud Time
  2. Three Methods Parents can Use to Build their Child's Phonics Skills
  3. Help Your Child Learn to Listen
  4. Use Reading Time to Build Language and Comprehension