Activities with Kids

A parent’s guide to phonics – top tips from HOMER Learning

Kathleen Jones  |  22 May 2023


As parents, we don’t just want our children to learn how to read, but learn to love reading. Recognizing words easily is one of the first steps on the path to a love of reading and learning, and using phonics can help you get the ball rolling for your child.

Reading is not a task that comes naturally for most children. Instead, they need to be taught to read. Mastering early literacy skills has a lasting impact on a child’s future. In fact, reading at grade level by the 4th grade is the single greatest predictor of future academic success. With 60 per cent of American fourth graders not reading at grade level, teaching phonics early to your child can help ensure that they don’t fall behind.

Keep reading for the fun, simple and do-at-home parent’s guide to phonics.

What is Phonics?  

So what is phonics, and how can it help your child? Very simply, phonics is the relationship between letters and sounds. It’s a method of instruction that teaches children to see a letter and attribute a sound to it or hear a sound and match that sound with a letter. 

Kids can begin learning phonics as early as three or four years old, though they are usually introduced to phonics when they start kindergarten. But how do you know if your little one is ready to jump on the phonics train? 

There are two major milestones that indicate your child is ready for phonics: 

  • your child can read and recite the alphabet
  • they show interest in playing with words, sounds, and language 

When your child is fluent with the alphabet and enjoying self-expression, that’s the time to begin to play with phonics.

Phonics activities for parents to do at home-Homer Learning

Phonics activities for parents to do at home (all of the play tips!) 

Here are some fun activities to get your child thinking phonetically:

A rhyming game 

Gather a basket of small toys or pictures of objects with names that rhyme (cat, hat, bat, mat, and so on). 

Hold up an object and begin the rhyme by saying something like, “In my hand, there’s a bat.” Then say, “Your turn!” and encourage your child to find a toy that adds to the rhyme. (“In my hand, there’s a hat.”)

A new twist on an old song 

For this game, you can rely on a tradition from when you were a kid – the Old MacDonald song! Except this time, you’ll be playing a funnier version with your child. 

During the part of the song when everyone yells, EEH-EYE-EEH-EYE-OH, have your child replace the letters with the name of an animal, even if it’s not the exact same amount of syllables. For example: kit-ty-kit-ty-cat or goat-y-goat-y-goat. 

This gets your little one working on syllable segmentation without even knowing it. They’ll be cracking themselves up while still developing their skills – and a love for learning.

The wrong words 

Not only will this next game make your child laugh, it will also help give them tons of confidence – because they’ll be correcting your silly mistakes! 

Choose a nursery rhyme your child is familiar with, like “Jack and Jill” or “I’m A Little Teapot.” Sing with them, but when it’s time for some of the iconic rhymes, start messing up the words. 

Your child will probably laugh and correct your rhyme. Without them even realizing it, this game encourages your child to listen carefully for the right sounds. 

These tips are a simple way to incorporate phonological awareness, the foundation for phonics, into your daily routine. You can sing while cooking dinner, driving around town, cleaning up the house, or anything else on your to-do list. 

For more ways to keep your child learning through play, check out HOMER Learn & Grow, our essential early learning app.

Try HOMER Learning free for 30 days

HOMER have designed a program that combines the best reading and phonics curriculum with fun reading games and activities. Our step-by-step pathway guides children from basic reading to the literacy skills they need to succeed in kindergarten and beyond.

This thoughtfully-made – and loved-by kids – program is:

  • proven to increase early reading scores by 74% 
  • designed by experts for ages 2–8 
  • rated Best App for Early Learning Across Subjects by PARENTS Magazine 
Phonics resources for parents-Homer Learning

Try it out for 30 days, and tag team HOMER and The Ribbon Box in your learning games – we’d love to see!

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