What are phonics?

Phonics is the word used to describe the sounds the letters make. In simple terms, the word 'cat' can be read from its three sounds: c-a-t.
These are not the names of the letters as we say them in the alphabet, but the sounds these letters make.
Likewise, the word 'thick' is made up of three sounds: th-i-ck, where pairs of letters combine to make a single sound.
Similarly, 'rash' is made up of three sounds: r-a-sh.
Here are some more examples:

Single letters making their own sound:
fog: f-o-g
cup: c-u-p
dig: d-i-g
ten: t-e-n
jam: j-a-m
huge: h-u-g-s
sits: s-i-t-s
logs: l-o-g-s
buns: b-u-n-s 

Pairs or groups of letters making a shound (e.g. ch, sh, ck.)
chess: ch-e-ss
fish: f-i-sh
then: th-e-n
shed: sh-e-d
dash: d-a-sh
chips: ch-i-p-s
sack: s-a-ck
hill: h-i-ll 

For a dyslexic child, the most valuable aid to reading and spelling is to learn the sounds the letters make. This allows your child to work out each word from the sound made by each individual letter: for example 'L-e-n' runs together to make 'Len'. Most three-letter words can be worked out this way - bus, leg, rat, log, hit, and so on - if you learn the sounds. However, there are exceptions - the, are, was and others which have to be remembered on their own as a whole word.
Knowing the sounds of the twenty-six letters of the alphabet is the first major step for a dyslexic child, and can allow them to read sentences like: -

Tom and Liz hid a tin in a box.

Pam hit Tom on the leg and ran off.
Books which contain only these simple three-letter words can become limited and boring for children to read. It is usual to include more exciting words in beginner reading books, like ice-cream, milk-shake, elephant, dinosaur, MacDonald's, airplane. Despite their length, these words are usually easy for children to read because of the connections they stimulate!
This leads children to be able to read more interesting sentences, like: -

Tom met Len at MacDonald's and had a milk-shake.

When you are helping a child to learn these simple sounds, take examples of words they are very familiar with. For example, if your dog is called 'Rover', use 'r' is for Rover.
Remember to use the sound and not the name of the letter: -
'apple' begins with 'a'.
'ball' begins with 'b'.
'cat' begins with 'c'.
. . . and so on down to 'z'. ('x' is a difficult sound, like 'ks' at the end of 'box' and 'fox'.)

A game to play at this stage is 'I spy . . . , where you say: "I spy with my little eye something beginning with the sound w'". Explain that "I spy" means "I am looking at", and your child guesses 'window', washing', wallpaper' until the one you are thinking of is named. Give a clue by looking directly at the object if it is not guessed after ten seconds. Try to help your child to quickly guess the answer so that he or she experiences success, or they will not want to play again.

The sounds of the letters


apple begins with a
nut begins with n
burger begins with b
octopus begins with o
cat begins with c
penguin begins with p
dog begins with d
queen begins with q
egg begins with e
rabbit begins with r
fish begins with f
sausage begins with s
gun begins with g
tomato begins with t
house begins with h
umbrella begins with u
insect begins with i
video begins with v
jet begins with j
window begins with w
kettle begins with k
fox ends in x
lemon begins with l
yo-yo begins with y
mouse begins with m
zebra begins with z