The goal of phonics instruction is to help children learn the alphabetic principle. The alphabetic principle is the idea that there is an organized, logical and predictable relationship between written letters and spoken sounds.
Programs of phonics instruction should be:
- Systematic – the letter-sound relationship is taught in an organized and logical sequence
- Explicit – the instruction provides teachers with precise directions for teaching letter-sound relationships.
Effective phonics programs provide:
- Frequent opportunities for children to apply what they are learning about letters and sounds to the reading of words, sentences, and stories.
Systematic and explicit phonics instruction:
- Significantly improves children's word recognition, spelling, and reading comprehension.
- Is most effective when it begins in kindergarten or first grade, but should be used as a part of a comprehensive reading program with students who do not have a firm understanding of the letter-sound relationship, regardless of grade level.
Adapted from: Put Reading First: The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read Kindergarten Through Grade 3, a publication of The Partnership for Reading (www.nifl.gov/nifl/pfr.html)
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