Learning the phonics alphabet

Do your kids know their phonics alphabet? Learning to read and write is a major milestone, but you can help your preschooler learn the basics using the phonics alphabet.
Do your kids know their phonics alphabet?

Learning to read and write is a major milestone, but you can help your preschooler learn the basics using the phonics alphabet.

Learning the phonics alphabet


What is phonics?

Phonics is a way of teaching children the different sounds of letters or groups of letters and linking them together to help them learn to read.

The English alphabet has 26 letters, but it’s actually very complex, with 44 sounds and over 200 letter groups.

Other countries have much simpler alphabetic codes, and with a growing number who have English as a second language in New Zealand, it’s important to teach a method that helps children to pick the different sounds in words.

Helping preschoolers learn the phonics alphabet

Traditionally, teachers taught children by teaching individual words, which they would pick up over time or by guessing through pictures. However, phonics helps them to break down every word into separate letters or groups of letters, sound it out and work out what it is.

There's no need to wait until your little one starts school. As they start to learn their alphabet and how to read, you can pick out letters and words and teach them how to pronounce them using the phonics alphabet.

For instance, the letter ‘B’ should be said as ‘Buh’, the letter ‘F’ should be said as ‘Ffff’, the letter ‘M’ is ‘Mmm’ etc.

Start with short words such as cat or dog which your child will understand. Point to each letter from left to right, sounding out each one slowly.

Be guided by your child and don’t force the pace too early or you’ll run the risk of turning them off reading.

Pictures are great for sharing and talking about a story, but try to avoid letting your pre-schooler use the pictures to guess the words they doesn’t know.

Make the most of your everyday surroundings and point out words and letters on shop signs, on food packets, in newspapers or magazines, car number plates etc so that that they are getting regular exposure and opportunities to practise their phonics.

As they progress you can start introducing letter combinations or blends that make sounds, eg.  the ‘ch’ of chick or ‘sh’ of sheep.

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