What are Phonics?

What are phonics? Perhaps even more critically, what are phonics good for?

The simple fact of the matter is that phonics are what determines how the letters in our words sound. It is the study of how to pronounce words we don’t recognize on sight. For instance, whenever we see the ‘ph’ in a word, we know that it sounds like an ‘f’. We have things like silent ‘e’ and silent ‘h’ and silent ‘g’ which also affect how we pronounce words.

But why study phonics? What is it good for?

The study of phonics in elementary school is highly useful for some students, and completely useless for others. Phonics is an excellent tool for visual and auditory learners who need to see and hear to understand words. For kinesthetic learners, phonics is often a highly confusing subject, and one that they not only struggle with understanding, but don’t receive a whole lot of benefit out of in the first place since they are often strong readers.

In an ideal world, it would be easy to say that those who struggle with reading should be given phonics lessons, and the stronger students be given time to read silently, but that often looks very unfair to students, and is not something that administrators will likely approve.

However, if you take the study of phonics seriously, you can learn a good deal from the subject of phonics if it approached properly.

What are Phonics Principles Worth Knowing?

The first reason to study this is always to learn where words break apart for syllables. The more that this subject is covered, the better. Syllables are usually going to be where word parts divide, and where root words are exposed. Learning about root words is an essential skill for understanding the long and complex vocabularies of the sciences and should be approached as soon as possible.

Once the root words are established into a curriculum, phonics will also help with teaching proper spelling techniques to the few auditory learners you encounter. It is a backwards way of learning how to spell, in this case “sounding out” a word.