Reading Skills: Phonics

Learning to read is an exciting time for children and their families. However, many parents can’t realize that these emerging literacy skills don’t come as second nature and that learning to read is not automatic. Regardless of family background, many children need help. The Reading Skills Pyramid is a helpful resource for parents. It illustrates the five key areas in becoming a reader: phonemic awareness, phonics, comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency.
  • Phonemic awareness* is a child’s awareness that words are made up of sounds that can be assembled in different ways to make different words. Children build this pre-reading skill by practicing nursery rhymes and playing rhyming word games.
  • Phonics* is the understanding of how letters combine to make sounds and words. Learning phonics starts with knowing the alphabet. Children then learn the sound of each letter by associating it with words that start with that sound. Phonics skills grow as students distinguish between vowels and consonants and understand letter combinations. Try our phonics lessons.
Tutoring, workbooks, games or structured computer programs can help teach or reinforce these skills. Parents can help by providing high-quality educational materials, establishing a pattern of daily reading, creating a rich language environment, discussing a child’s progress with teachers and following up on their recommendations. Learning to read successfully is the culmination of many steps. You can help your children learn to read by familiarizing yourself with the process using the Reading Skills Pyramid. You can even order a printed wall copy of the Reading Skills Pyramid. If you have questions or comments about the Reading Skills Pyramid, join our online forum discussion about early reading skills. It’s a great place to ask other parents questions about their experiences building their children’s reading skills. You can also take advantage of educational websites like Vocabulary Learning Fun. They offer word games like Hig Pig, which develop reading and phonics skills.