Phonics and other Key Definitions

If you have a child at The Reading Ranch® Tutorial Center, you probably have heard the term phonics thrown around quite a bit in conversations with our instructors, all of whom are eagerly trying to share with you your kiddo’s early literacy success stories. But what about other terms, like phonemes, phonemic awareness, and even phonetics?

Phonics – The method of teaching reading and writing by correlating sounds with letters or groups of letters. It is a way of learning that helps your child hear and sound out new words.

All these terms are mentioned, too, and they each play a different role in filling the gaps in your child’s reading comprehension. Read below for a few quick definitions; this should help get you up to speed.

Phonetics – This is the study of speech sounds. It focuses on how speech is created and received. For example, the letter “c” in the word “cat” is spoken as “ca” as you physically begin sounding out the word.

Phoneme – This refers to the most basic sound unit of speech in a word. An example would be “t” in the word “take.”

Phonological Awareness – This is awareness of units of speech, such as words and syllables, that have similar sounds. A child who struggles with this won’t be able to hear the difference between words like free and tree or weight and gate.

Phonemic Awareness – These are oral tasks that allow a child to hear, identify, and manipulate sounds in spoken words. A perfect example is taking the word “cat” and breaking it down into three phonemes (ca … a … t).

There’s a lot more where this came from. In fact, here’s a link to a pretty expansive list of phonics definitions. We pointed out the definitions to each of these words not just to give you a quick refresher course but to drive home the point that a key ingredient to your child’s ability to read is the relationship between their teachers and mom and dad. When you are kept up to date on your child’s progress and the curriculum, you are able to keep the momentum going at home.

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