How to Teach Phonics to Kids (Step by Step Instructions for Parents)

Wondering how to teach phonics to kids? Here I will try to cover frequently asked questions around phonics, step by step instructions on how to teach phonics to kids when to get started, and an easy roadmap you can follow. You will also find phonics resources (books, activity books and pdf printables) that you can use for teaching your kids

When we were growing up – we did not have phonics and as a result there is a lot of ignorance about phonics in general.

Here I would try to answer most frequently asked questions around phonics so that it becomes easier for everyone to be able to teach phonics to your child.


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What is Phonics?

Phonics is a way or method of learning how to read and write by the study of sounds. It involves teaching sounds made by via letter sound relationships.

So English uses letters in the Alphabet to represent sounds. In Phonics kids are taught sounds that each letter or group of letter makes and thus this information helps kids learn how to read.

So phonics helps kids with sound based rules that helps them to read and write easily.

For example – children will learn sound of letter m a t which they will sound out as /mmmm/ /aa/ /t/) and then will be able to blend the sounds together to read word mat. Or if they hear mat they would be able to decode the sounds to understand how to write the word ‘mat’.

Why is Phonics important?

Phonics help kids learn how to read and write by using letter sound knowledge. This skill helps our kids to read or write unfamiliar words as well.

If we teach our kids 10 words by rote learning they would still know only 10 words. But if we teach them the sounds of 10 letters they can read many more words with those letters of the alphabet.

Thus in Jolly phonics the first sounds taught are s,a,t,i,p,n. As with only these sounds they can read and write many words like sat, tin, pin, tip, sit, and so on.

This knowledge gives the confidence.

Thus Phonics helps kids to use skill and strategy to decode new words. Phonics provides a foundation make reading easier.

When is Phonics taught

Children are ready to start phonics around 3 to 4 years of age.

Also please wait for your kids school to start phonics to avoid confusing the child. As different schools may follow different methods of teaching.

Another important thing is – Do not rush your kids to start with phonics and if you are teaching yourself learn from an accredited teacher (who is accredited to teach others) . It is difficult for a child to unlearn so wait for your school to start or learn the rules and the teach.

Avoid buying kits as most of them are not based completely on jolly phonics and may confuse your kid more.

In general below is the sequence followed:

  • Preschool – Kids are taught Capital letter ABC
  • In Nursery kids are taught small alphabet letter sounds and letter formation (writing). Simple sight words are also introduced
  • In Kindergarten – kids are taught CVC word families and more sight words
  • And then more advanced concepts and rules are taught in first grade and beyond.

Types of Phonics

  1. Synthetic Phonics
  2. Analogy Phonics
  3. Analytic Phonics
  4. Embedded Phonics

How to teach Phonics to kids

The Alphabet is a great place to start teaching phonics. Though the order in which letter and sounds are taught may be different from a b c .

Also the number of letters in the Alphabet are different from number of sounds taught in phonics. In phonics we have 42 sounds. Because in some cases two letters may make a single sound for example th, sh and so on. These are referred to as Digraphs (2 letter and 1 sound).

So to simplify start with simple letter sounds ( 1 letter and 1 sound). For each letter we introduce letter name, sound, action, story and letter formation.

How to teach letter sounds to kids

Introduce each letter sound with fun action, stories and songs.

Also one frequently asked question is should I teach writing along with letter sounds?

When you are introducing each letter – also introduce letter formation to kids

So each day you can introduce one letter – by its story, action, its sound and how to write it. Start writing in air and the practice it on any page or worksheets. You can also do tracing for each letter on salt trays or create them using playdough or trace them on sandpaper letters like these.

In Jolly Phonics the alphabet sounds are taught in a particular sequence as below

jolly phonics sequence

Letter sounds worksheets for kids

You can start with downloading these letter sounds phonics worksheets for kids. They cover alphabet sounds activities

Also you can get these downloadable phonics flashcards for kids They cover objects starting with each letter

Once your child is able to identify sounds you can get these missing letter sounds worksheets

Jolly phonics worksheets for kids

You can also buy Jolly phonics pupil and teachers books from amazon. I have listed them below

Once you have taught letter sounds to your child. Practice them regularly via different activities and worksheets.

Ask your child to hear and identify beginning sounds and ending sounds in words.

Phonics key skills — common terms used

Apart from alphabet sounds you would also need to teach below skills

Teach Blending

Blending is the ability to say sounds together to form words.

Teach Segmenting

Segmenting is the ability to break down words into individual sounds

Teach Tricky words or sight words

Tricky words or sight words do not follow the rules of phonics. So a kid has to learn them as they are. For example a child should be able see the and understand it is the word ‘the’.

How to teach phonics step by step

  • 2 letter blends
  • CVC words
  • Tricky words
  • Digraphs (2 letter 1 sound)
  • Long and short vowels
  • Longer CCVC and CVCC words
  • Learn alternative spelling
  • Learn special rules

What are Digraphs

A digraph is set of 2 letters that make one sound. They can be made of vowels or consonants.

Example – sh, th, ch

What are CVC words?

CVC words are 3 letter words that begin with a consonant, have a single letter short vowel sounds and then another consonant.

Example cat, mat, sad, pen, sun, pit, dog,

Read Next

How to teach CVC words to kids

CVC words worksheets for kids

You can download these CVC clip cards to practice beginning sounds. If you want to learn family wise

Go for downloadable at family worksheets , an family worksheets (We will be adding more resources for each family with time)

For covering overall word families this downloadable CVC puzzle pack is good

What are short and long vowel sounds

Short vowel sound for letter a can be heard in words like apple, ant and anchor.

Long vowel sound for letter a can be heard in words like angel, airplane.

In long vowel – the sound of letter a is same as letter name a.

Similarly we have different short and long sounds for all vowels.

What are Sight words

Sight words are words that do not follow any rule of phonics and young children are encouraged to memorize them as whole. For example – could, am, one, yellow etc.

These are also referred to as tricky words.

Being able to recognize and read Sight words is one of the key skills needed to help your chill learn to read fluently.

Jolly Phonics sight words list

You can download the Jolly phonics tricky words list from below link. Jolly phonics is a way of teaching phonics to kids and they have divided the sight words into 4 levels.

Download your Jolly Phonics Tricky words list from here

How to teach Sight words to kids

If you have any further questions feel free to ask me in comments would love to hear from you

Sight words worksheets for kids

You can get these worksheets for practicing two letter sight words and here are some more downloadable sight words worksheets for kids

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