Phonics is a term that refers to the sound that letters make both on their own as well as in relationship to other letters. Educational institutions use phonics lessons to help teach students to become proficient readers. Instructors teach students the sound of each letter and then help them sound out words by putting those different letter sounds together to form complete words. Students can expand on their classroom lessons or get some extra phonics help by using free resources to help them review their phonics sounds.

Select a free resource for learning phonics sounds. Free Internet-based phonics program are available such as the Letter Sounds software from Owl & Mouse at "" or the ABC Fast Phonics program at "" These programs require the computer to be connected to the Internet and to have sound capability.

Many public libraries have resources for learning to read. Check with your local library to see if they have any programs or materials available for borrowing that offer phonics lessons with a CD or cassette tape so that the student can hear the sounds being taught. Schools may also have materials available for borrowing or be able to offer remedial tutoring for students who need extra help.

Set aside time each day for phonics study. Depending on the needs of the student and the time available, choose an appropriate time to devote to phonics study each day -- perhaps one half hour, forty minutes or one hour.

Begin with the simple sounds. The easiest sounds to learn are the basic consonant sounds and the short vowels. These are many of the letters that will be found in short words like "cat" and "hop." Once children learn these basic sounds, they can be taught to read these simple words. If the phonics program you are using does not have any simple reading books, find some basic level-one easy reader books so that they can practice what they have learned.

Move on to more complex sounds. Teaching long vowels is more complex because many times some of the letters in words with long vowels are silent. Students should learn the different combinations of vowels used most often to make different long vowel sounds. Once these sounds have been mastered, have children practice reading some simple books that contain some long vowel words.

Build on what has already been learned by teaching children about some of the different consonant blends, such as "ch" and "tr." These sounds are trickier than regular consonant sounds so children may need extra time to listen to these different sounds and extra practice to learn how to pronounce them properly. Once these students are comfortable recognizing and pronouncing different blends, they can practice by reading short books that include words with different blended consonant sounds.