The National Reading Panel found that systematic phonics instruction made a significant impact on children’s reading success. The report also showed that phonics instruction is best done early (before Grade 1), helps prevent and remedy reading challenges in at-risk and struggling readers, and helps to improve reading comprehension and spelling in young readers.
Phonics is the understanding that letter symbols represent sounds, and that sounds can be blended together to make written words. It is also referred to as letter-sound correspondence, or sound-symbol correspondence, because children must understand that specific symbols (letters) match certain sounds (“This letter is a T, it makes the sound /t/”.) In order to decode, or “sound out” words when reading, children must acquire knowledge of the many different sounds that are represented by our alphabet.
Phonics should be taught in a fun, meaningful way, not as rote memorization or solely with worksheets. The best approach is to combine phonics with, and play active games involving real objects phonemic awareness that allow children to put their understanding of sound-symbol correspondence to use. Gather toys from the playroom, magnetic letters, foam letters, etc. and have fun identifying sounds and building words.
Source: Read 20 Arizona