Effective Phonics and Word Study Instructions

The ability to read and spell individual words with ease is a prerequisite to reading for meaning. Students who master the basics of phonics and word study can focus on the meaning of text without struggling to decipher the sounds and letters within words. In the early stages of reading development, students learn to discern the indi-vidual sounds (i.e., phonemes) within words and match them with the letters that represent these sounds. This letter-sound relationship is often called the “alphabetic principle,” which entails learning how to identify and decode the sounds and letters that make up individual words. Moving beyond this basic alphabetic sound-letter knowledge, students also learn the principles of phonics and word study. This involves learning the conventions of spelling patterns and basic rules for how words are formed and how to read complex multisyllabic words. Most students acquire these foundational reading skills in the early grades through systematic and explicit instruction and then continue to add to their understanding of words. Some students, however, require extra support or reading intervention to build this important foundation for reading.

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