Phonics is a necessary part of any good method of teaching children to read. Teaching Children phonics and helping them develop phonemic awareness is the key to mastering words, which is the first key step toward successful reading. Children need to develop a knowledge of the letters, the sounds represented by the letters, and the connection between sounds created by combining the letters where words are formed. This is an essential part of mastering reading, and enabling children to become independent readers. By learning phonics and phonemic awareness, children gain the ability to pronounce new words, develop clear articulation, improve spelling, and develop self confidence.
When it comes to teaching your children to read, it must include three basic principles:
1) Reading for the child, whether it's a word, sentence, or story, must appeal to your child's interests.
2) Never pressure or force your child into reading, turning it into a negative "event" in their life. It should be a fun, enjoyable, and rewarding experience. This will take ample amounts of patience on the part of the parents, and some creativity.
3) Teaching your child to read must begin with the mastery of the phonemes - the individual sounds which makeup the words.
The basic process of teaching phonics and phonemic awareness to children includes teaching them the letters and letter sounds; then you teach the child to combine (or blend) various letter sounds together to form words; which is then followed by reading sentences and simple stories. This is a logical progression for children to learn reading, where they develop accuracy in decoding words and pronouncing words. This method of teaching also helps the child to spell correctly. Gradually, the different elements of phonics are combined to produce new words, and leads to the discovery of new words by the child using this process which becomes an "automatic reflex".
Teaching phonics to children should take 10 to 15 minutes each day, and these "lessons" should take place in several small sessions each day - such as 4 or 5 session lasting 3 to 5 minutes each. For older pre-school children, lessons can be slightly longer; however, several minutes each session is all that's needed.
One way to start teaching phonics to children with with ear training - by helping them develop the understanding that words are made up of smaller units of sounds, or known as phonemes, and when you combine these sounds, a word is formed. You can start this with very short sessions, as already mentioned. A few minutes a day is all that you need. The key, however, is consistency and patience.
During these short sessions, sound out words slowly and distinctly. You can do this without even making the child aware that you are trying to teach them. Simply take words from your everyday speaking to your child and include oral blending sounds into your sentences. For example, if you wanted to ask your child to drink his milk, you could say: "Joe, d-r-i-n-k your m-ilk." The words drink and milk are sounded out slowly and distinctly. The level of sound separation can be set by you to increase or lower the difficulty. Thus, if Joe has a tough time figuring out that d-r-i-n-k means drink, you can lower the difficulty by blending the word as dr-ink instead.
Alternatively, you could simply pick different words and play blending sounds games with your child. You simply say the sounds of the word slowly, and ask the child try to guess what you are saying.
This concept of individual sounds forming words may take some time for your child to grasp. Some children will pick it up quickly, while other children may take longer, but one thing that's certain is that if you keep it up, your child will catch on. Below are some sample words which you can use to play blending sounds activities with your child.
The first word is more segmented than the second word, and will be more difficult to sound out. Please note that hyphens are used to indicate the letter sounds instead of slashes.
ie: J-u-m-p /J/ /u/ /m/ /p/
This is done to make things easier to read; however, when you read it, you should not read the names of the letters, but instead say the sounds of the letters. This type of ear training for phonics and phonemic awareness should continue throughout the teaching process, even well after your child have grasped this concept. It can be applied to words with increasing difficulty. Again, please always keep in mind that not all children can readily blend the sounds to hear the word, so you must be patient, and drill this for days, weeks, or even months if needed. Consistency and frequency is the key to success here, and not sporadic binge sessions.
If you would like to learn about a simple step-by-step program designed to easily teach your children how to read, please click here.
The ability to read is vital for success. It helps your child succeed in school, helps them build self-confidence, and helps to motivate your child. Being able to read will help your child learn more about the world, understand directions on signs and posters, allow them to find reading as an entertainment, and help them gather information.
Learning to read is very different from learning to speak, and it does not happen all at once. There is a steady progression in the development of reading ability over time. The best time for children to start learning to read is at a very young age - even before they enter pre-school. Once a child is able to speak, they can begin developing basic reading skills. Very young children have a natural curiosity to learn about everything, and they are naturally intrigued by the printed texts they see, and are eager to learn about the sounds made by those letters. You will likely notice that your young child likes to look at books and thoroughly enjoys being read to. They will even pretend to behave like a reader by holding books and pretend to read them.
As parents, you're the most important first step in your children's journey into the wonderful world of reading. It is up to you to create the most supportive environment that turns your child on to reading - such as reading aloud to them often during the day and before bedtime, and placing age appropriate books for children around the house, so that the child will have access to plenty of books. Reading often to your child will help develop their interest in books and stories, and soon they will want to read stories on their own.
With the help of parents, children can learn how to read. Make reading into a family activity, and spend time playing words games and reading story books. This will not only help you child learn to read, but it'll also help them build a rich vocabulary, teach them language patterns, and help them fall in love with books and reading.
Below are some tips to help you teach your child to read.
Talk to your child - before a child can learn to read, he or she must first learn to speak. Talk to your child about everything and anything - whatever interests them. Tell them stories, ask your child lots of questions, play rhyme games, and sing songs with them.
Read to your child consistently everyday - we're all creatures of habit, and enjoy having a daily routine. Set time aside each day to read to your child. Read to your child every night. Make this their "cool down" period before they go to sleep. This not only helps your child develop an interest in books and reading, it also help the parent bond with the child, and develop a healthy relationship.
Help your child develop reading comprehension - typically, parents will take the time to read for their children; however, many parents do not put much emphasis or thought on whether their children understands what they've just been read to. Instead, occasionally, make an effort to question your child on what you've just read. For example, you read to your child:
"Jack and Jill went up the hill..."
You pause briefly and ask your child:
"So where did Jack and Jill go?" Or alternatively, "Who went up the hill?"
Young children may not catch on right away initially, and it may take a little practice, but they'll eventually catch on and begin to develop a deeper understanding of what they are reading. This is a very important step in helping your child develop reading comprehension. Of course, don't do this every single time you read, or your child will quickly get bored and lose interest. Do it at random times, and do not over do it.
Help your child to read with a wide variety of books and keep reading fun - There is no shortage of children books, and you should always have a wide variety of children books, stories, and rhymes available. Reading is a lot of fun, for both parents and children. Read to your child using drama and excitement, and use different voices. Give your child the option of choosing what book they want you to read, instead of picking the book you want to read to your child.
When reading to your child, read slowly, and point to the words that you are reading to help the child make a connection between the word your are saying and the word you are reading. Always remember that reading should be a fun and enjoyable activity for your children, and it should never feel like a "chore" for them.
>> Click here to help your child learn to read
What's the best way to teach children to read? According to the National Reading Panel, "teaching children to manipulate phonemes in words was highly effective under a variety of teaching conditions with a variety of learners across a range of grade and age levels and that teaching phonemic awareness to children significantly improves their reading more than instruction that lacks any attention to Phonemic Awareness."  This is a statement made by the National Reading Panel (NRP) in their report titled "TEACHING CHILDREN TO READ: An Evidence-Based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on Reading and Its Implications for Reading Instruction."
Phonemic Awareness instruction was selected for review by the NRP in their report because studies have identified phonemic awareness and letter knowledge as two of the best predictors of how well children will learn to read in their first 2 years of entering school. There is strong Scientific evidence to suggest that phonemic awareness instructions are an important part in helping children develop reading skills.
One study discussed the presence of phonemic awareness in Austrian children aged 6 to 7 that were unable to read when first entering school. This study found that many children had not one correct response in their test of a simple vowel substitution task. However, a few children who exhibited high phonemic awareness scored close to perfect on this same task. The study further stated that "there was a specific predictive relationship between initial phonemic awareness differences and success in learning to read and to spell." Even more importantly, the study indicated that it was phonemic awareness abilities, and not IQ, that predicted the accuracy of reading and spelling at the end of grade one. Children with high phonemic awareness at the beginning of grade one had high reading and spelling achievements at the end of grade one, compared to some children with low phonemic awareness who had difficulties learning to read and spell. 
In the National Reading Panel report, they also determined that the beneficial effects of phonemic awareness on reading lasts well beyond the period of training. While phonemic awareness instructions are proven to significantly help children learn reading, it is not a complete reading program. What it does, is provide children with a foundational knowledge base of the alphabet language. The NRP analysis also showed that phonics instructions produces significant benefits for students from kindergarten through grade 6, and is also helpful for children with learning to read difficulties.
Children who are taught with phonics and phonemic awareness instructions are consistently able to decode, read, and spell, and even demonstrated significant improvement in their ability to comprehend text. Even older children who receive these similar teachings improved their ability to decode and spell. The NRP made a key statement saying that "conventional wisdom has suggested that kindergarten students might not be ready for phonics instruction, this assumption was not supported by the data. The effects of systematic early phonics instruction were significant and substantial in kindergarten and the 1st grade, indicating that systematic phonics programs should be implemented at those age and grade levels."
However, I would like to further expand on that by saying that children as young as two years old can learn to read through phonics and phonemic awareness instructions. If a young child can speak, then they should be able to learn to read, even if they are as young as two years old. In fact, I have proven this with my own children. We started teaching our daughter at 2 years and 8months, and she was very capable at reading by the time she was just 2 years and 11 months old.
>> Click here to learn more about the simple, step-by-step phonics and phonemic awareness program we used to teach her to read.
1. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel. Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction (NIH Publication No. 00-4769). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
2. Cognition. 1991 Sep;40(3):219-49.
The relationship of phonemic awareness to reading acquisition: more consequence than precondition but still important.
Wimmer H, Landerl K, Linortner R, Hummer P.
University of Salzburg, Austria.
Learning to read at a young age is important for the development of the child. It helps them develop a better understand of their surroundings, allows them to gather information from printed materials, and provides them with a wonderful source of entertainment when they read stories and rhymes. Children develop at different rates, and some children will develop reading skills quicker than other children; however, what's important is that as the parent, you are keenly aware of your child's maturity and reading level to provide them with appropriate books and activities to help them improve.
As parents, you are the most important teacher for your children. You will introduce your child to books and reading. Below we have some tips to help you teach your child to read.
Teach Your Child How To Read Tip #1
Teach your child alphabet letters and sounds at the same time. Studies have shown that children learn best when they are taught the letter names and letter sounds at the same time. In one study, 58 preschool children were randomly assigned to receive instructions in letter names and sounds, letter sound only, or numbers (control group). The results of this study are consistent with past research results in that it found children receiving letter name and sound instruction were most likely to learn the sounds of letters whose names included cues to their sounds. 
When teaching your child the letter sounds, have them slowly trace the letter, while saying the sound of the letter at the same time. For example, if you were teaching your child the letter "A", you would say:
"The letter A makes the /A/ (ah) sound."
Then have your child say the /A/ sound while tracing the letter with his or her index finger.
Teaching A Child How To Read Tip #2
When teaching your child to read, always emphasize with them that the proper reading order should be from left to right, and top to bottom. To adults, this may seem so basic that anyone should know it. However, our children are not born with the knowledge that printed text should be read from left to right and top to bottom, and this is why you'll sometimes see children reading from right to left instead - because they were never explicitly taught to read from left to right. When teaching your child how to read, always emphasize this point with them.
Teach Your Child How To Read Tip #3
Teach final consonant blends first. Teaching words such "at" and "and" can lead your child directly to learning words that rhyme with these. For example, for "at", you can have:
For "and", you can have these rhyming words:
and so on...
You can start teaching blends once your child has learned the sounds of some consonants and short vowel sounds. You don't need to wait until your child has mastered the sounds of all the letters before teaching blends.
Learning to read is a long process, but it doesn't have to be a difficult process. Broken down into intuitive and logical steps, a child as young as two years old can learn to read, and older children can accomplish even more.
>> Click here for a simple, step-by-step program that can help your child learn to read, and watch a video of a 2 year old child reading.
1. J Exp Child Psychol. 2010 Apr;105(4):324-44. Epub 2010 Jan 25.
Learning letter names and sounds: effects of instruction, letter type, and phonological processing skill.
Piasta SB, Wagner RK.
Preschool Language and Literacy Lab, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.
Children Learning Reading™
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