What is phonics?
Phonics is the connection between letters and the sounds that they make. It can sound intimidating and technical, but phonics is really just the very first step to being able to read on your own.
Phonics instruction covers a lot of different skills and often takes many years to master. It’s typical for a child to begin their phonics journey between the ages of 3 and 5, and keep working on these skills well into 3rd grade. During this process, a child will learn:
- The sounds each letter makes
- How to identify and say the beginning, middle, and end sounds of words
- How to identify and say short and long vowel sounds
- The sounds pairs of letters can make together (“sh” or “th” for example)
- How to decode words (how to break a word into parts and say each part)
- How to blend words (how to put separate sounds together to smoothly read a word)
What can I do to help my child develop their phonics skills?
Lots! The phonics stage of reading acquisition can often feel tedious and boring to kids who just want to get to the fun part of reading. You can help your learner by making phonics practice feel more like a game that’s part of your daily routine. Here are some ideas you can try at home. You can download this tip sheet below.
How does the Khan Kids app help develop phonics skills?
At Khan Academy Kids, we love phonics and have a lot of activities that support phonics instruction! Visit the Letters tab in the Library and have your child practice letter sounds with Ollo. Or go to the Reading tab and look for practice on Reading Foundational Skills. This video of Kodi talking about beginning sounds is an example of how your child will be introduced to different elements of phonics such as phonemes (individual sounds) in our app.
Because phonics practice can span such a long period of time in your learner’s life, it’s important to follow a sequence to make sure they’re building skills in a helpful order.
Check out the Reading Foundational Skills practice located in the Reading tab of the Library. Here are a few example activities that you can try out in order:
- Blend Sounds 1
- Beginning Sounds 1
- Words: End Sounds
The Khan Kids app has activities for every stage of phonics development, and our short, fun format will keep learners coming back for more!
This is article #2 in our series of 5 articles about the path to reading. If you’d like to learn more, be sure to read the other articles!
Article 1) Pre-literacy: the period of time before a child begins to read or write
Article 3) Fluency: reading naturally, while paying attention to meaning
Article 4) Comprehension: understanding and thinking about what you read
Article 5) Reading routines: developing lifelong readers