Making learning fun for 21st century kids

Phonics explained

How phonics helps children learn to read and write

As adults, we've learned to read over our lifetime thousands of words by sight. We know the words without thinking. Even on the rare occasions we come across new words, we can normally work out how to say them. Often though we've forgotten how we manage to do this.

Young children learning to read don't know thousands of words by sight and don't know how to sound out words they don’t recognise.

A child who can read well early progresses faster with the rest of their education. Obviously, parents are keen to help their children, but sometimes our best efforts can be counter-productive.

Letter names and sounds

It may seem a good idea to teach the alphabet as your first step in home schooling. The problem though is letter names (what we call the letters) are not the same as the letter sounds (how we say the letter when we use it in a word). For instance, "a' in "cat" . Our video also illustrates this key point.

A child who knows their letter names won't actually find that this helps them to read even simple words like "mat".

How Phonics works

“In the largest, most comprehensive evidenced-based review ever conducted of research on how children learn reading, a Congressionally mandated independent panel has concluded that the most effective way to teach children to read is through instruction that includes a combination of methods.The panel determined that effective reading instruction includes teaching children to break apart and manipulate the sounds in words (phonemic awareness), teaching them that these sounds are represented by letters of the alphabet which can then be blended together to form words (phonics), having them practice what they've learned by reading aloud with guidance and feedback (guided oral reading), and applying reading comprehension strategies to guide and improve reading comprehension.” US National Reading Panel, press release, 13 April 2000

"In the most famous experiment, in Clackmannanshire, children taught using synthetic phonics were years ahead of their contemporaries by the time they moved on to secondary school." 20 March 2006

Phonics maps the sounds we use to say words to the letters we use to write them.

Once a child does know just a few sounds, they are able to start sounding out simple words. They can actually start to read. And that's a huge incentive for them to learn even more sounds and be able to read more words.

PocketPhonics uses the new magic of the iPhone to teach the old magic of phonics.

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