Phonic Reading Sounds

What is phonics?

According to the Concise Encyclopedia, the definition of phonics is: –

“Method of reading instruction that breaks language down into its simplest components. Children learn the sounds of individual letters first, then the sounds of letters in combination and in simple words.”

What does this mean?


When children first learn to read at school, they learn the sounds of the alphabet and then move onto learning when two letters make one sound (digraphs) such as sh, oa, er. Children then continue to learn different letter patterns and sounds, as they progress through their primary schooling.

Children initially learn how to blend the sounds together to make words such as d-o-g dog

f-i-sh  fish

pl-u m plum

Therefore, it is important for children to sound the word out when they are unsure.

You may have heard of different phonic programs that your children may learn in the first year of their schooling, such as Letterland™, Jolly Phonics™ or Thrass™, to name a few.


When spelling a word, it is important for them to hear the sounds in the word and know how to write them.

There are some words called sight or tricky words that may be unable to be sounded out or a hard to spell. Children may be able to sound out parts of the words or will need to learn how to read and spell them off by heart.  E.g. the, he, come, because.

Why do children learn phonics?

Phonics is important in helping children read and spell.  They learn to decode or break a word up to help them read or spell it.

Dyslexic Children

It helps children if they can see it as a code and when they learn the code (the sounds) it will help them read and spell the words. It also gives them a challenge if they know that they have  ‘to use the code’.

Some dyslexic children may need to go back and learn the sounds and practise them in words. They may also be unable to hear some of the middle and end sounds when they hear or say a word. Therefore it is essential that children practise breaking the words up into sounds and seeing it visually with letter tiles or cards, as it helps them see the word.