Phonics is often referred to as the building blocks for children when learning how to read and write. 

This post will cover the basic principles of Phonics, how to understand it and subsequently how to help children learn more effectively. 

  • Phonics refers to the study of sounds
  • Children learn to read and write using phonics which is directly linked to phonemes and graphemes.
  • Phonemes refer to the sounds of words/letters and graphemes refer to the symbols used to represent them. For example, the phoneme (sound) k can be represented by the graphemes c, k, ckor ch. 
  • The table represents all the different phonemes and their matching graphemes.
  • By learning to match various combinations of phonemes and graphemes, children will learn to read and write.


  1. Understanding sounds of letters: Phonics teaches children how to read letters by learning their corresponding sounds
  2. Blending: Once children have an understanding for the sounds each letter of the alphabet represents, they can learn to blend these letter-sound pairings to create words.
  3. Digraphs: when children have a good grasp of individual letter sounds, they can begin to read and write digraphs. Digraphs refer to two letter that make one sound, for example ph in phone.
  4. Graphemes: the next stage involves children understanding that one sound can be represented by different graphemes. For example the ai sound found in the word rain could also be represented as eigh in eight or ay in day etc. Graphemes can also have alternative pronunciations for example ea in sea and head.
  5. Fluency and Accuracy: Once children have learnt to recognize the differences between similar sounds and spellings, they can progress to read familiar words with ease and be able to navigate harder, unfamiliar words.