Updated: Apr 8
The chart below is a common phonics course of study sequence. I have included it for your convenience. There is a rhyme and reason behind this particular sequence; the sounds are arranged in the order of difficulty and use. If you find a sequence that works better for your student, or you skip around based what is relevant to your child, please feel free to do so.
Sometimes, when completing a rigid sequence, a situation arises where your child will encounter a phoneme that he isn’t scheduled to learn for awhile. If your child is ready, by all means, help him learn it! You can always return to it later. You are not obligated to a set sequence of instruction.
s, a, t, p, i, n, m, d, g, o, c, k, ck, e, u, r, h, b, f, ff, l, ll, ss, j, qu, v, w, x, y, z, zz,
ck, ff, ll, ss, zz, ch, sh, th, ng, ai, ay, ee, ea, igh, ey, ei, oa, oo, ar, or, er, ir, ur, ow, ou, aw, au, ew, eu, oy, oi, ie, kn, gn, wr, ph, dge, tch, ti, si, ci, ough
he, she, the, to, we, me, be, was, no, go, my, you, they, her, all, are, said, so, have, like, some, come, were, there, little, one, do when, out, what
Sight Words, Whole-Word
Sight words, or “whole word” instruction can be helpful especially for words that can’t be sounded out easily such as the, says, or two. Or words that your child just can’t seem to remember despite having read them a thousand times. However, this sort of instruction should be used sparingly as it is the cause of much frustration. Many parents (and teachers) can’t understand why the child just can’t seem to “get it” or remember such simple words. No amount of flashcard review, copywork, or wall charts seems to help. It’s enough to want to pull out your own hair!
If you have read my other posts, you will no doubt remember emphasizing that making relevant and meaningful connections within context was essential to learning to read. Memorization is not literacy. Memorizing a random list of words has absolutely no relevance to the average kid; or average adult for that matter.
Think about it, if I told you to remember a list of random words for no understandable reason, would you?
Read each word then memorize it.
Genipap, duvetyne, futhorc, pyknic, witenagemot, smaragd, gossypol, chaulmoogra, brummagem, alsike, chersonese, cacomistle, yogh.
Notice your reliance on phonics.
Imagine you didn’t have those superpowers. Most young readers are still honing their phonetic awareness and cannot simply rely on their skills like we can.
Now, what if I told you to study the same list of words over and over, because I told you to.
Of course not! Kids are no different. No one likes expending energy on a task that seems pointless.
My point is that the use of whole word or sight word strategies must be taken with great care.
Words should always be presented within the context of what’s being read.
The cat is on the mat. The dog is on the log. The rat is in the hat.
These short sentences are much more meaningful than a blank card with the word the written on it.
Want to make it even more memorable? Include a visual, like a picture or an actual cat, mat, dog, log, rat or hat, in addition to the words.