The Importance of Phonics

Literacy is the cornerstone of education. Without competent training in reading, spelling, comprehension and grammar, students cannot hope to succeed academically. Therefore it is vital to teach literary skills from an early age, using the most effective methods. The best method, and every student’s first step to comprehensive literacy, is phonics.

Phonics teaches reading and writing by showing students the relationship between letters, sounds and words. By learning the discrete sounds and patterns of English, students develop the ability to decode the printed word and to read independently.

Throughout the history of education in the U.S., phonics has proven the surest path to success in literacy. The 1984 study by the Department of Education, Becoming a Nation of Readers, found that phonics instruction significantly boosted children’s ability to identify words, with or without context. 

Reports by the U.S. Department of Education (1990) and the National Research Council (1998) reconfirm the importance of phonics in early education. The reports state that phonemic awareness—knowing that letters represent sounds—is a crucial factor in acquiring and understanding language.

The National Reading Panel spent three years evaluating over 100,000 studies on reading instruction methods. Their report, released in 2000, concluded that systematic phonics instruction is more effective than all other methods in learning to read. Phonics also helps readers to cultivate other literacy skills.

At the Fairfax Christian School, the Lower School English curriculum starts with phonics. This foundation allows our students to develop as proficient and confident readers for life. 

Our English as a Second Language (ESL) program is also phonics-based. As a result, our ESL students learn English quickly, have excellent comprehension rates and receive top test scores within a shorter instructional period.