How to Teach Phonics

Teaching your children or students strong phonics skills is vitally important for better reading. Numerous scientific studies have shown that phonics skills are one of the most important predictors for successful reading achievement.

Phonics skills and reading achievement

Once you recognize the importance of strong phonics skills, the question becomes: how do you teach phonics most effectively?

The most important factor in deciding how to teach phonics is selecting the right program. There are a wide range of phonics programs to choose from, but only a handful are truly effective. The best phonics programs are designed according to proven educational principles, and will guide you every step of the way through the process of teaching your children or students to be excellent readers.

When evaluating phonics programs,
you should start by looking at three things:

1) Scope and sequence

The first thing to evaluate is the scope and sequence of the program. The scope defines the list of phonics patterns, sounds, and rules that are taught in the program. The sequence defines the order in which these concepts are taught. A good phonics program will always have a lengthy, logical, and thoughtfully designed scope and sequence.

If a phonics program does not have a scope and sequence, or if its scope and sequence is short and incomplete, it will not be suitable as your primary phonics program. Many of the phonics cartoon software games fall into this category. Although these programs may be helpful as supplements, they are incomplete and insufficient to thoroughly teach phonics by themselves.

To see a complete, well designed scope and sequence,
take a look at the Ultimate Phonics scope and sequence.
You can download the pdf file here:

  Download Ultimate Phonics Scope and Sequence PDF

2) Decodable reading material

The second thing to look at when evaluating phonics programs is the quantity and quality of decodable reading material. The best activity for learning to read is actual reading. Reading experience, not game playing or rule memorizing, is the key to developing great readers.

The problem is, for beginning or struggling readers it is hard to find suitable reading material. If you just take a book off the shelf, even one that is supposedly written at a low grade level, the phonics rules used in the words are often so complicated and inconsistent that many students are overwhelmed and confused.

When students are first learning to read it is essential that they begin with carefully controlled decodable reading material that enables them to gain a lot of reading experience without being forced to guess. A well designed program enables your students to read thousands of different words and sentences without ever needing to guess or skip.

The best programs carefully organize all the phonics rules and reading material and then teach it progressively, with lots of controlled decodable reading practice. For example, in Ultimate Phonics your children and students read over 4,400 different words and 2,100 sentences. All the material is 100% decodable, so at every point they have already learned everything they need to successfully read the lessons.

Here are the decodable word lists and sentences
taught in the 262 lessons in the Ultimate Phonics program.
You can download the pdf file here:

  Download Ultimate Phonics Words and Sentences

3) Ultimate Phonics software

A third factor to consider is how to use the computer as a learning tool to support your direct, systematic phonics instruction. Ultimate Phonics software directly teaches your children and students how to read with phonics in the clearest, most straightforward way.

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Try Ultimate Phonics for yourself

You can try the complete Ultimate Phonics program for free for 10 days with no obligation. If you want a proven program that will definitely improve the reading of your children and students, go ahead and give it a try: