My second-grader simply can't sound out most new words; however, she is a very good reader. If you tell her what a word is, she remembers it or figures it out through context. Her teacher's reaction is: "Some kids just don't get phonics." This remark bothered me. Is it important for my child to become more skilled with phonics? -- Good Reader


Children learn to read in different ways. Your daughter is a sight reader. This is the way children were taught to read years ago. It would be helpful if your daughter could use phonics to recognize the first sound in words, as it would make it easier for her to use context in recognizing them. While she may never be great at phonics, it is highly probable that she already has some knowledge of phonics simply through her ability to read so well.

You should be able to increase your child's knowledge of phonics by teaching her some common word families. A word family is a combination of letters that makes a certain sound. If your child knows the sound of a word family, such as -ay, she would be able to sound out and read -ay family words including hay, day, may, say and pay.

The word family approach is incorporated in many basal reading series, phonics systems, reading-readiness lessons and spelling series. When your child cannot sound out a word, recognizing a word family in it will help her to do so.

Here are the 38 most commonly used word families used in one syllable words: -ay,- ill, -ip, -at, -am, -ag, -ack, -ank, -ick, -ell, -ot, -ing, -ap, -unk, -ail, -ain, -eed, -y, -out, -ug, -op, -in, -an, -est, -ink, -ow, -ew, -ore, -ed ,-ab, -ob, -ock, -ake, -ine, -ight,

  • im, -uck and -um.

Your daughter can have fun learning these words. Introduce her to a word family and then have her see how many words she can write. For reading practice, search the Net for Word Family Readers. We will soon be bringing out our own Word Family Readers. Be on the lookout for them.