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Skills Overview

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What is Beginning Phonics?

Beginning Phonics skills are the most primary phonics skills and should be taught starting in Kindergarten and until mastery is achieved.  Beginning phonics continuum includes the following skills:

  • Short Vowels

  • Consonant Digraphs and Trigraphs

  • Double Consonant Endings

  • Blends

  • 1-1-1 Doubling Rule

  • Inflectional Suffixes

  • 2-Syllable Words with Short Vowels


What tasks should students be able to demonstrate to indicate mastery of this skill?

  • Accurately and automatically decode words. 

  • Accurately and automatically encode words.


Why is understanding beginning phonics important to reading?

Building a strong and automatic foundation in beginning phonics is critical to reading success. Understanding the systematic, predictable relationship between written letters and spoken sounds ensures that students can decode real and nonsense regularly spelled words.

What diagnostic can be used to determine if there are deficits in beginning phonics skills?

Structured Literacy Tools

Sequential and Cumulative

Systematic and Explicit

To Mastery

Phonics should be taught sequentially. Below is an overview of essential skills included in beginning phonics instruction and a comprehensive scope and sequence provided by Neuhaus.  Many phonics programs have a scope and sequence, but it is important to ensure that the sequence is logical and research based.

A systematic and explicit phonics lesson should follow predetermined, well planned steps.  By using consistent  instructional routines, students can focus on learning the new content.  Provided below are descriptions and procedures for each recommended step in a phonics lesson.  Also, provided is a vowel chart that can be used to signal short vowel sounds, sample lesson plans, a template to assist teachers in creating a phonics lesson plan, and a glossary of phonics related terms.

Gaps in phonics knowledge are formed when students move through the skills without mastering them regularly.  Assessing students on the specific skill most recently taught is a good way to ensure students do not form gaps in their learning.  If mastery has not occurred, reteach and remediate before moving on. Provided is a sample assessment on a specific skill and a template for assessing mastery of phonics skills.  These assessments are quick and relatively easy to administer.

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