Phonics, the 2nd stage of the reading process (after phonological processing), teaches children the link between letters and the sounds they make. Phonics instruction provides children with skills for blending individual sounds into words.

It takes a lot of mental energy to learn and apply phonics

With consistent practice, children eventually learn to read words quickly and easily. They move from sounding out simple 3-, 4-, and 5-letter words to being able to read the word on sight. As your child grows older, they can rely on their basic phonics skills to break down larger, more complex words they come across.

For example, a kindergartener will learn to sound out C-A-T as the word “cat”. By 3rd grade, they should be able to read the word “cattle” without sounding out each individual letter-sound. By 5th grade, breaking down the words “catapult” and “catalog” should be easy. By the time they reach high school, words like “cataclysm” and even “catheter” should not pose too much of an obstacle.

You can unschool phonics with play-based and physical activities that reinforce essential phonics skills. While phonics involves reading and writing, you can unschool phonics without using endless worksheets.

  1. Play concentration, where you match upper and lower case letters
  2. Play dominoes, where you match upper and lower case letters
  3. Play bingo, where you call out the names of letters
  4. Using magnetic letters on a refrigerator door, build basic 3-letter words by calling out the sounds of each letter
  5. Complete dot-to-dot pictures using letters (instead of numbers) to practice alphabet sequencing


    unschool phonics


  6. Read alphabet books to practice letter-sound associations
  7. Create your own alphabet books with stickers and cut-out pictures
  8. Practice writing letters with whole body motions using a bucket of water, a paintbrush, and an outside wall
  9. Practice writing letters with larger hand motor skills by rolling out play-doh letters
  10. Practice writing letters by tracing in sand or in a tray of salt


    unschool phonics


  11. Introduce word families
  12. Use letter strip manipulatives to practice reading word families
  13. Create word family trees together and display on the wall as a visual reminder or learnt words
  14. Practice reading word rings, a series of flashcard words that have been previously learned
  15. Play file folder games that focus on discrimination skills, such as distinguishing between OW and OU words
  16. Introduce sight words into your child’s reading list
  17. Introduce easy-reader books to practice reading individual words as parts of sentences

Last modified on September 28, 2019

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