The goal of phonics instruction is to help children learn the alphabetic principle — the idea that letters represent the sounds of spoken language — and that there is an organized, logical, and predictable relationship between written letters and spoken sounds.
Learning that there are predictable relationships between sounds and letters allows children to apply these relationships to both familiar and unfamiliar words, and to begin to read with fluency.
Children are taught, for example, that the letter n represents the sound /n/, and that it is the first letter in words such as nose, nice and new. When children understand sound–letter correspondence, they are able to sound out and read (decode) new words.
Learning how the 26 letters in our written alphabet are used to represent the roughly 44 sounds in our spoken language allows children to unlock the code of our written language!
Phonics instruction should be:
- Systematic: the letter-sound relationship is taught in an organized and logical sequence.
- Explicit: there are precise, detailed directions for teaching letter-sound relationships.
- Every day: provides frequent opportunities for children to apply what they are learning about letters and sounds to the reading of words, sentences, and stories.