Are phonics really essential for learning to read?


Phonics is the understanding of the relationship between letters and their sounds. Learning phonics helps children decode words as they read, spell words when they write, and increases reading comprehension. That said, phonics are only one component of learning how to read. Children also need language and listening skills like asking questions about a story or retelling it in their own words. They need to know how to count words and syllables in words, rhyme, and put sounds together to make words. All of these skills, in addition to an interest in learning to read, are important components for children to successfully learn how to read.

Jennie Ito, Ph.D.

Child Development Expert

Jennie Ito is a mother of two and a child development consultant who specializes in children’s play and toys. Before becoming a consultant for LeapFrog, she was an intern at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and later worked as a content expert for the Association of Children’s Museum’s “Playing for Keeps” Play Initiative. Jennie earned her doctorate degree in developmental psychology at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.