Expert Phonics Strategies


What is often the most difficult skill for children to learn?

How to read…

Couple that with various special needs and this process can be quite challenging (especially if you aren’t familiar with teaching this skill)!

One PROVEN strategy that has helped millions of children read is a little thing called… phonics!

Phonics, put simply, is teaching children  to read by sounding out the words.

Phonics is an essential part of learning to read…

Let’s dive into some basic strategies to help your child improve this skill, in the right developmental progression.

Expert Phonics Strategies For Parents

1: Teach Letters And Their Sounds

In phonics, children must know letter sounds in order to begin sounding out words.

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This process can be taught with;

  • Flashcards
  • Letter tiles
  • Games

Lots of repetition is best!

2: Blending Letters

Teach children to begin blending letters to make syllables or short words is the second stage in phonics.

Start with short, vowel words.

Start with a consonant followed by a short vowel sound.

For example: b–>a.

A good way to teach this is with a simple whiteboard and marker. Try different sound combinations.

They may sound silly at first, but this is a good way to get your child to start blending sounds.

3: Add Ending Sounds

The third phonics stage involves add ending sounds to start reading once syllable, short, vowel words.

Example: c–>a–>t spells cat.

Many beginning reader books are full of these words.

4: Add In Consonant Digraphs

Stage four in phonics includes adding in consonant digraphs, while still having a short vowel.

Digraphs are two or more letters than go together to make a new sound.

Common digraphs are;

  • ch
  • th
  • sh
  • ph
  • wh
  • ck

Example words at this stage: bath, wish, and shop.

5: Consonant Blends

Next, children learning phonics are now ready to read words with consonant blends.

Consonant blends are two sounds that go together, but you still hear the two different sounds, such as st-, pl-, dr-, etc.

You still want to give your child short vowel words when you begin this stage.

Example words with these sounds are drum, crab, and step.

6: Words With A Silent “e”

The next stage in phonics is reading words with silent “e”.

At this stage, children begin to recognize that vowels have two sounds.

Up to this point, they have read mostly words with the short vowel sound.

Now, we teach them that they can change a vowel’s sound by adding a silent “e” to the end of the word.

Example words: cape, like, and flute.

7: Vowel Teams

Vowel teams are the next stage in a child using phonics to learn the skill of reading…

These are difficult for children to begin learning at first.

Vowel teams occur when two or more vowels go together to make a sound. It is crucial at this stage to not get bogged down by rules.

The old rhyme, “When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking,” is not always correct.

In fact, that rule is only correct less than half the time! It is vital at this stage that children learn to “flex” the sound of the vowel to see what sound it will make.

Examples of vowel team words are: rain, break, and clean.

8: R-Controlled Vowels

Stage eight in phonics is to teach R-controlled vowels.

R is a funny letter…

When it gets put with a vowel, it completely changes the vowel sound into something different.

R-controlled vowels include:

  • ar
  • or
  • ir
  • er
  • ur

Example words are: cart, turn, and for.

9: Variant Vowels

Variant vowels come in to play during the next phonics stage and are very complex.

These include words that have;

  • oo
  • ew
  • oi

Variant vowels do include other vowel sounds (in addition to the above list) that are entirely different up to this point.

10: Multi-Syllable Words

The final stage in phonics involves learning to read multi-syllable words.

At this point, your child will have mastered most sound combinations and syllable types.

A syllable is a word part that contains a vowel or a vowel pattern. It is important to have them break the words apart by syllable to read.

An easy way this can be accomplished is to write a word on paper, and then have your child draw a line to separate each syllable.

Additional Reading Resources

These expert tips are designed to help parents teach reading to their children. This process has been proven, and is broken down into a simple approach parents can understand…

However, if you feel your child (and you) would benefit from gaining a jumpstart on reading… we can help!

We have a tremendous number of special education experts that can quickly help your child get on the path toward reading success!

In just ONE hour per week…

Check out our no obligation consultation page to have a personal conversation regarding your child’s current needs…

Phonics is said to be the “building blocks of learning to read.”

It is what everything else rests upon, so it has an essential place in reading instruction.

Have you tried these strategies, or do you have other strategies to add?

Please let me know below.



Expert Phonics Strategies
LEARNING to read is tough and TEACHING your child to read is tricky… however, using these 10 phonics strategies makes teaching this skill MUCH easier!

Picture of Teresa Stone, M.A.Ed.

Teresa Stone, M.A.Ed.


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