• med What exactly is Phonics? Many parents hear the term when their child is learning to read, but a lot of them have no clue what teachers are talking about--let alone how they might be able to help.

    Plain and simple, phonics is the relationship between letters and sounds in language.  Phonic instruction usually starts in kindergarten, with kids learning CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words by the end of the year. Words such as hat, cat, and pot are all CVC words.

    But CVC is just the beginning. The bulk of phonics instruction is done in first grade. Students usually learn consonant blends (-gl, -tr -cr), consonant digraphs (-sh, -ch, -qu), short vowels, final e, long vowels, r-controlled vowels, and diphthongs. From second grade on up, phonics continues to build fluency and teach multisyllabic words.
    Phonics is the building block to reading. Once you know the rules, they can help quite a bit. So learn the basics. Not only will you be helping your child, but you'll finally understand what the teacher is talking about!  When you are reading with your child you may want to help your young reader decode words using sayings we use in class to support phonics development.
    Interest peaked, but don't know where to begin? Here are some basic phonics rules to keep in mind as your child learns to read:




    Phonics Rules

    Vowel Rules:



    A vowel followed by a consonant is short.

    Consonant/vowel/consonant or CVC pattern

    log    cat     sit

    An open, accented vowel is long.

    no   me   I   go

    A vowel followed by a consonant and a silent e is long.  The e is silent.  It makes the vowel say its name.

    name   hope   like

    Spelling Rules:

    K and C Spelling Rules:  k before e, i, or y (keg, kid, milky)

                                           c before a, o, u, and any consonant (cat, cot, cut, clip, crop)

    Final /k/ Spelling Rules:  ck after a short vowel (black, lock)

          k after a consonant or a vowel digraph (milk, look)

        ke after a long vowel (cake, bike)

         c at the end of a word with two or more syllables (traffic, specific)


    Floss Rule: When a one-syllable root word has a short vowel sound followed by the

    sound /f/, /l/, /s/, it is usually spelled ff, ll, ss, zz. (buzz, fuss, pill, puff)


    Final /v/ Spelling Rule: When a word has the final sound /v/, it is spelled ve. (glove, five)


    Final /s/ Spelling Rules: ss after a short vowel (kiss, mess)

       ce after a long vowel (ice, face)

       se after anything else (false, choose)


    Adding a Consonant Suffix: To spell a word with a consonant suffix, just add the

    suffix to the end of the root word. (bright-> brightly)


    Adding a Vowel Suffix-Dropping Rule: When a word ends with a silent e, drop the e

    before adding a vowel suffix. (race-> racing)


    Adding a Vowel Suffix-Doubling Rule: When the final syllable of a word is accented

    and ends with one vowel and one consonant, double the final consonant before adding a vowel suffix.



    J & G Spelling Rule:    j before a, o, or u (jaguar, juggle)

    g before e, i, or y (gerbil, giraffe)


    Final /ch/ Spelling Rules:  tch after a short vowel (patch, ditch)

           ch after anything else (church, punch)


    Final /j/ Spelling Rule:  dge after a short vowel (badge, ridge)

        ge after anything else (cage, range)


    Definitions for Coding and Understanding Saxon Phonics:

    Breve- a coding mark used to indicate a vowel's short sound

    Cedilla- a coding mark on the letter c to indicate a soft sound
    Combination- two letters that come together to make an unexpected sound (ar, er, ir, or, ur, qu, wh)
    Digraph- two letters that come together to make one new sound (consonant digraphs: ch, ck, ng, ph, sh, th; vowel digraphs: ai, au, aw, ay, ea, ee, ei, ew, ey, ie, oa, oo, ow, ue)
    Diphthong- two vowel sounds that come together so quickly that they are considered one syllable (oi, ou, ow, oy);
    Final, stable syllable: a nonphonetic syllable that occurs in the final position frequently enough to be considered stable (ble, cle, dle, fle, gle, kle, ple, sle, tle, zle, tion)
    Ghost Letter Digraphs: two letters that make one sound; first sound is silent (gn, kn, wr)
    High-frequency words: those words that occur most often in written text
    K-back: a coding mark consisting of a vertical line on the back of a c that makes the /k/ sound
    Macron: a coding mark used to indicate a vowel's long sound;
    Prefix: a letter or group of letters added to the beginning of a root word that changes the

    meaning or usage of the word (dis, pre, un)

    Root word: a word with no prefix or suffix added
    Schwa: a coding mark resembling an upside-down e placed over a vowel to indicate the short u


    Sight word: a word of which all or part does not follow phonetic rules
    Sneaky e: the e in the vowel rule v-e; it makes the vowel have a long sound (a-e, e-e, i-e, o-e, u-e)
    Suffix: a letter or group of letters added to the end of a root word that changes the meaning or usage of the word (vowel suffix: ed, er, es, est, ing, y; consonant suffix: ful, less, ly, ness, s);
    Syllable: a word or part of a word that contains only one vowel sound and is made by one impulse of the voice
    Trigraph: three letters that come together to make one sound (dge, igh, tch)
    Twin consonsants: two identical consonants making only one sound
    Voice line: a coding mark consisting of a horizontal line through the middle of a letter or letters, representing a voiced sound (s, th)
    "Wild Colt" Words: words that only have one vowel and break the rule by sounding like a long vowel (wild, colt)


    Other Rules or Codes:

             ai is often followed by n, l, or d

             oa is often found in one-syllable words

             v and x are never doubled

             x is never followed by an s

             no words in English end in v

             igh, ough, and augh are usually followed by a t

             add es to nouns ending in s, x, z, ch, tch, and sh to make them plural

Last Modified on December 7, 2012