Literacy at home

Literacy involves a range of skills, abilities and the confidence to engage with language for different purposes and in a range of contexts. You can read more about literacy on the Australian Curriculum website.

The ability to read fluently and confidently, and for a range of purposes, is one component of literacy. An understanding of phonics is one integral component within the key elements of literacy.

Helping your child to read with phonics

You don’t need to be a teacher to use everyday activities to build a culture of reading and play with words and sounds at home. There are many ways you can support your child to read.

The content here is a starting point – more will be added over the coming months. Find some simple ideas that you can use in the car, at home in the kitchen or when you are reading a story together. Select each of the topics below to find out more.

Simple steps to help your child learn to read using phonics

  • Ask your child's class teacher about the school's approach to phonics and how you can reinforce this at home. For example, the teacher will be able to tell you which sounds, letters and letter groups the class is covering in lessons each week.
  • You can then highlight these sounds when you read with your child. Teaching how sounds match with letters is likely to start with individual letters such as s, a and t and will then move on to two-letter sounds such as ee, ch and ck.
  • With all books, encourage your child to 'sound out' unfamiliar words and then blend the sounds together from left to right, rather than looking at the pictures to guess the meaning. When your child reads an unfamiliar word you can talk about what it means and help them to follow the story.
  • Your child's teacher will also be able to suggest books with the right level of phonics. These books are often called 'decodable readers' because the story is written with words made up of the letters your child has learnt. They will be able to work out new words from the letters and sounds they know, rather than just guessing.
  • Try to make time to read with your child every day. Grandparents and older brothers or sisters can help too. Once your child has learnt individual letter sounds, encourage your child to blend the sounds all the way through a word. Word games like 'I spy' can also be an enjoyable way of teaching children about sounds and letters. You can also encourage your child to read words from your shopping list, or road signs, to practise phonics.
  • Most schools use 'book bags' and a reading record, which is a great way for teachers and parents to communicate about what children have read. The reading record can tell you whether your child has enjoyed a particular book, and shows problems or successes they have had, either at home or at school.
Letter hunt

Spot the capitals

It can take time for your child to master the upper and lower case forms of letters and confidently link them to their most common sounds. To help your child, challenge them to a letter hunt: just choose a letter, and ask your child to find words that begin with that letter (both capitals and lower case).

  • Your name begins with a capital 'A'. Can you see some words that begin with a capital 'A'? What about a lower case 'a'?

You can play this game almost anywhere, with any kind of text – such as signs, labels, books, magazines and newspapers. Try making it a challenge:

  • How many words beginning with 'b' can we spot on our bus ride?

Make sure to make a deliberate mistake sometimes, so your child can correct you and show off their knowledge!

Go online

For online reinforcement, Letter planet: s, c, b will give your child practice at finding words that begin with s, c, or b.

Curriculum connections

The Australian Curriculum sets the goal for what all students should learn as they progress through their school life. Skills in the Foundation Year curriculum include:

  • understanding that letters of the alphabet can be written as upper and lower case
  • identifying letters as they appear in different forms
  • making connections between the written letter and their most common sounds.
Words, words everywhere

Spot the words

Our worlds are full of written text, so it's easy to give your child practice at recognising familiar words and working out new words. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • When preparing a meal, ask your child to get the ingredients out for you.
  • Ask how many words they can read on the label – you might be surprised!
  • When ordering from a take-away menu or at a cafe, ask your child to find their favourite foods.
  • Ask your child to write the shopping list for you (check if they try to sneak in some extra treats!).
  • When you are going somewhere new, ask your child to look for the street signs and house numbers (if the street name is tricky, tell them the first few letters to look for).
  • Ask your child to read the addresses on your mail and work out who it is for.

The more you do this, the more your child will want to look for words in their environment and read them to you.

Go online

For online reinforcement, My Day: Jeneka and My Day: Li will give your child practice at:

  • selecting appropriate choices for different situations
  • reading words we use in familiar situations.

Curriculum connections

The Australian Curriculum sets the goal for what all students should learn as they progress through their school life. Skills in the Foundation Year curriculum include:

  • recognising new or unfamiliar words in everyday situations
  • getting clues about a word's meaning from how and where it is used
  • developing strategies for dealing with unknown words.