Phonics is a fundamental skill that plays a crucial role in children's literacy development. It involves understanding the relationship between letters and their corresponding sounds, enabling children to decode words and read with fluency. As parents, you have the power to greatly support your child's phonics skills at home. In this blog post, we will explore effective strategies and activities that you can incorporate into your daily routine to foster phonics development and create a strong foundation for your child's reading success. Here are some tips and strategies for how parents can help with phonics at home.
Read Aloud to Your Child
The first strategy may seem obvious, but reading to your child every single day is shown to build language skills at an early age. Reading aloud is a powerful tool for developing phonics skills, but you will need to add in enrichment if you want it to help your child's phonics skills. Choose age-appropriate books and engage your child in shared reading experiences. Emphasize letter sounds, point out specific phonetic patterns, and encourage your child to follow along. By hearing the sounds of words in context, your child will begin to make connections between letters and their corresponding sounds.
If you want more tips on how to read aloud effectively to your child, check out this YouTube video here: Read Aloud Tips for Parents
Phonemic Awareness Games
Phonemic Awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate phonemes (aka sounds) in words. With my own daughter, I like to call them our “sound games”. You can work on phonemic awareness skills with nothing but your voice, which makes it a great activity for driving in the car, waiting in the grocery line, or during bath time. It is the simplest way parents can help with phonics at home!
Here are a few phonemic awareness “sound games” you can try with your child:
- Thumbs up/Thumbs down with Rhyming Pairs: Say two words and have your child repeat them. Ask “Do they rhyme?” and they will say yes or no
- I Spy with Identifying Sounds: Say “I spy something that starts with the /b/ sound.” Have your child look around for objects that start with /b/. For example, they may say “ball” or “bus”- both would be correct! The goal is to have them isolating the beginning sound of a word.
- “I'm thinking of a word” to practice blending skills: Oral blending is the first step for kids learning how to read. Before they can look at a word to sound it out, they must be able to first hear the sounds and blend them together. To play, you can say, “I'm thinking of a word, can you guess what it is?” Then say each sound of a short CVC word with a break in between each one. For example, “/h/ /a/ /t/”. Your child will have to repeat the sounds, then say the word together.
- Clap it out to practice counting syllables: Say a longer multi-syllabic word, like “butterfly” or “macaroni”. Have your child clap out each syllable in the word, and tell you how many syllables are in the word.
If you want to learn more about phonemic awareness vs phonics, check out this blog post here: Teaching Phonemic Awareness vs Phonics.
Letter Recognition Activities
To develop phonics skills, children must first learn to recognize and differentiate letters, along with their letter sounds. You can easily incorporate letter recognition activities into your daily routine. Play games such as “I Spy” or “Alphabet Scavenger Hunt,” where your child can search for letters in their environment. Reading alphabet-based books, like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is another way to practice letters with your children while reading aloud. Use magnetic letters on the refrigerator or flashcards to practice letter naming and sounds. Personally, I would stay away from “drilling” with flashcards, as most children don't find this very fun. If you want some more ideas for letter recognition activities, check out this post here: 10 Simple Letter Recognition Activities
Word Building Activities
Engage your child in word-building activities that reinforce phonics skills. Use magnetic letters on your fridge or Scrabble letter tiles to create words, and encourage your child to sound them out. Start with simple three-letter words and gradually progress to more complex ones. Manipulate the letters to create new words, promoting an understanding of phonetic patterns and decoding strategies. This strategy is best for kids who are 5 and in Kindergarten, as they are working on some of the same skills at school.
Phonics Apps and Websites
Make learning phonics an exciting experience by incorporating educational games and apps. Many interactive platforms offer engaging activities that teach letter sounds, blending, and word building. If you are looking for a more educational approach to screen time, I love using these apps and websites with my own children!
Homer is hands-down my favorite app for preschool through early elementary-aged children. It includes more than just phonics, having a wide variety of math and literacy activities, along with fun games, songs, and stories. All of the Homer activities are developmentally appropriate and engaging for young kids. It even moves your child along using their “Daily Plays” giving them harder subjects and skills as they master the beginning ones. It is a paid app, but we use it almost daily!
You can try Homer for free for 45 days* with this link: Try Homer Today!
*I am an affiliate for Homer and I earn a small commission if you use my link to purchase a subscription, at no additional cost to you. By using this link, you do receive the best available offer at the time (only valid for affiliate links). I only recommend programs that I approve and use with my own children.
This was my favorite app I used as a Kindergarten teacher. It focuses mainly on letter recognition and sounds, but it great for Pre-K or Kindergarten aged children. You can try it for free here: Starfall ABCs
If you are looking for more simple early phonics activities, check out these resources below!
Remember that mastering phonics skills takes time and practice. Don't feel like you need to be practicing phonics with your kids daily, but you can always add it into your daily routine with these simple activities. Be patient with your child's progress and offer consistent support to both your child and their teacher. Celebrate their successes, no matter how small, to boost their confidence and motivation. I hope this post gave you a few ideas about how parents can help with phonics at home!