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  • Michelle Mason, Ph.D.

What Phonics your Child Should Know Grade by Grade

For the next few weeks, I will do a quick review of the components of good reading instruction. This week, I’m focusing on phonics.


I think everyone knows what phonics is, but just to clarify, it is the ability to match sounds to letters.

There are so many fun ways to teach phonics, and there are many games that you can get for free and for low prices on the Internet. There are also free and inexpensive worksheets on the Internet.

By the end of kindergarten your child should at least know:

  1. Beginning consonants bed.

  2. Ending consonants bed

  3. Short Vowels—a (cat), short e (bed), short i (tin), short o (cot), short u (sun)

More advanced kindergarteners will also know the following (your child should do okay in first grade if they do not know all of these):

1. Consonant blends at the beginning of the word: st, fl, cr, pl, gr, fr, tr, sl, pr, bl, cl, br, dr, sk, fr, sl, sp. I teach more than one at a time, but don’t do ones with the same first letter together (not st and sl, but st and tr). I also start with the most common first.

2. Consonant blends at the end of a word: --st, –sk, –sp, –nd, –nt, –nk, –mp, –rd, –ld, –lp, –rk, –lt, –lf, –pt, –ft, –ct

These should not be taught all at once. You should teach them one at a time.

3. Consonant digraphs: sh, th, ch, ck, wh, ph

4. –ing

5. Long vowels in CVCe (consonant, vowel, consonant, “e”) words:

a. Long a—cake

b. Long i—kite

c. Long o—joke

d. Long u—two sounds cube and tube (oo)

e. Long e—tree, beach, happy (y on the end of the word frequently says “e”).

By the end of first grade, your child should know:

1. All the above.

2. ai, ay (wait, ray)

3. e-e (feet, theme)

4. igh, (night)

5. y (fly)

6. oa (boat)

7. ow (how and row)

8. o (go, so)

9. oo (both soon and boot)

10. ew

11. ue (cue)

12. R-influenced vowels—ar, or, ir, ur, er

By the end of second grade, your child should know:

  1. All the above.

  2. Long i in (wild child, kind, find)

  3. Long o in (told, post)

  4. Oe (toe, foe, doe)

  5. Ui (fruit)

  6. Ou (cloud, mouth could, and would) two different sounds.

  7. Oi (coil)

  8. Oy (boy)

  9. Aw (paw)

  10. Au (sauce)

As you can see, there is a lot of phonics learned in first grade. If your child does not master most, if not all, of these concepts by March of first grade, they may have trouble reading. If your child is having trouble reading in second grade, have your child assessed at the school to see if your child qualifies for special education services. The school probably will not assess your child until your child is in second grade. However, if your child is falling behind in kindergarten or first grade or later, get some outside help from an educational therapist or a reading specialist. The earlier an intervention is implemented the more quickly your child’s reading will improve.

#reading #phonics #tutor

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