The Parents' Guide


How to help your Child develop letter-sound skills


Phonics is the use of letter-sounds to help your child read words easily. Phonics helps children beginning to learn how to read to recognize the sounds of letters of the alphabet in the words they read. This helps them to read and spell correctly, form their own words and reduce memorization. Here are some tips to help your child develop letter-sound skills easily:



Focus on sounds in the environment:

An easy way to start to think about sounds is to focus on sounds in the environment. For example, you can talk about the sounds that animals make. Example is the song called "Old MacDonald Had a Farm"? This is a good teaching song as is useful for children to see how these sounds are written or spelled. It teaches a variety of animal sounds, and it is fun to sing.



"Old MacDonald had a farm"; Example: duck

Old MacDonald had a farm, EE-I-EE-I-O.

 And on that farm he had a duck, EE-I-EE-I-O.

 With a quack quack here and a quack quack there

 Here a quack, there a quack, everywhere a quack quack

              Old MacDonald had a farm, EE-I-EE-I-O


Use of onomatopoeias

Another fun activity for children is to recognize and to write onomatopoeias. Onomatopoeia is a word that imitates or suggests the source of the sound that it describes. Common onomatopoeias include animal sounds, machine noises and human sounds. Here are some examples:










Ow, ouch, agh






Chomp, munch



Same or different sound?

A direct way to emphasize speech sounds is to ask children to compare them. For example, you can ask whether each pair of words begins with the same sound or a different sound. Remember, you are asking them to think about the sounds, not the appearance of the words. Here are some examples:



Bed and bug (same)

 Sip and son (same)

 Goat and jam (different)

 Game and giant (different—remember to focus on the sound, not the letter)

 Simple and cereal (same—remember again to focus on the sound, not the letter)




Poems that rhyme are very helpful to children’s sense of speech sounds. Rhyming poems make language and speech sounds easy to predict. Consider this poem:


John is glad today.

 It is the end of May.

 He can go out and play.

 He has a holiday!


In this simple poem, each line ends with the rime of “ay.” This makes the poem easy to read. Children beginning to read can use this to predict the sentence. The poem also sensitizes children to the “ay” sound.




Alliteration refers to the repetition of a particular sound in the first syllables of a series of words and/or phrases. Some common expressions that make use of alliteration are:

“right as rain,”

 “busy as a bee,”

 “jump for joy,”

 “good as gold.”

 “Donald Duck,” “Peter Pan,” and “Mickey Mouse” as other examples of alliteration.


Alliteration is also fun and challenging in the form of “tongue twisters.” When the alliteration is too much, they are difficult to say. One example is:

“Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.”


To make the activity more challenging (and fun!), you can also ask your child to read and create their own tongue twisters with alliterations.

e.g. A: Ama and Akua are around Afia.

B: Ben bought brown bags before bed.

C: Cory collected cola cans counting continuously.


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