How Can Phonics Be Applied Across The Curriculum

Written by Dan

Phonics, the method of teaching reading and writing by developing learners’ phonemic awareness, plays a critical role in early education.

But how can this seemingly specific tool be utilized across various subjects in the curriculum?

This article will explore innovative ways to incorporate phonics into different areas of learning.

From mathematics to science, history, and even arts – we will delve into how phonics can enhance not only literacy skills but also contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of various subjects.

By integrating phonics across the curriculum, we can create a more enriching and interconnected learning experience for students.

Join us as we unravel the unique potential of phonics and its wide-reaching applications in the educational landscape.

Understanding Phonics

Phonics is a teaching method that focuses on the relationship between sounds and their spellings.

The goal of phonics instruction is to help children recognize patterns in words so they can both decode (read) and encode (write) them.

In English, for example, we know that the letter ‘d’ often makes the /d/ sound, as in the word ‘dog’. This connection between sounds and letters is foundational for reading and writing.

Phonemic awareness, on the other hand, is the understanding that spoken language is made up of individual sounds, which are called phonemes. For example, the word ‘cat’ has three phonemes: /k/, /a/, /t/.

Phonemic awareness is an essential skill for children to develop because it helps them understand that different letter combinations can create different sounds, and those sounds make up our spoken and written language.

The role of phonics in literacy development is crucial. By understanding the relationships between sounds and spellings, children can begin to read and write independently.

They can use their knowledge of phonics to decode new words when they’re reading and to spell words when they’re writing.

Moreover, being confident in phonics can also aid in vocabulary development and comprehension. When children can break down and understand complex words, they’re better able to understand what they’re reading and engage more deeply with the text.

In summary, phonics and phonemic awareness are key components in literacy development.

They provide the building blocks for reading and writing, allowing children to decode and encode words, develop their vocabulary, and improve their overall comprehension.


Phonics in Different Subjects

A. Phonics in Mathematics

The application of phonics in mathematics may not seem like an obvious connection, but it can significantly aid in understanding mathematical terminology and concepts.

Much like how phonics helps children decode words in reading, it can also help them decode mathematical terms.

For instance, understanding the phonetic components of words such as ‘addition’, ‘subtraction’, ‘multiplication’, and ‘division’ can make these concepts more accessible to young learners.

By breaking down these words into their phonetic components, students can more easily remember and understand these terms.

Consider the word ‘multiplication’. By using phonics, a student can break it down into syllables: mul-ti-pli-ca-tion.

Each syllable can be sounded out, making the word easier to pronounce, remember, and recognize.

This approach can be applied to numerous other mathematical terms, helping students to become more comfortable with the often daunting language of mathematics.

Moreover, phonics can help students understand word problems. By being able to decode the language in a word problem, students can better identify what the problem is asking and what steps they need to take to solve it.

Phonics in Science

As in mathematics, phonics plays a significant role in understanding scientific terms and concepts.

Many scientific terms can be complex and intimidating, especially for young learners. However, applying phonics can make these terms more accessible and easier to understand.

Take, for example, the term ‘photosynthesis’. This word, essential in biology, might seem complicated at first.

But by breaking it down phonetically into ‘photo-syn-thesis’, students can tackle the word one piece at a time, making it less overwhelming.

This process not only makes the term easier to pronounce, but it can also help students remember it better.

Moreover, understanding the phonetic components of scientific words can also aid in comprehension.

For instance, knowing that ‘bio’ refers to life and ‘logy’ refers to the study of, students can deduce that ‘biology’ is the study of life.

Let’s consider an example of how phonics enhances comprehension in science. In a lesson about the water cycle, a teacher might introduce terms like ‘evaporation’, ‘condensation’, and ‘precipitation’.

By breaking down these words phonetically, students can more easily identify and remember these terms.

Furthermore, understanding the phonetics of these words can lead to a deeper understanding of the processes they represent.

Phonics in History

Phonics can also make a significant impact when learning about historical events and figures.

Historical names, places, and events often have complex or unfamiliar spellings, but using phonics can make these less daunting and more accessible to students.

For example, consider the name ‘Leonardo da Vinci’. Breaking this down phonetically as ‘Leo-nar-do da Vin-ci’ can help students pronounce and remember this important historical figure more easily.

Similarly, phonics can help students decode complex historical terms such as ‘Renaissance’ or ‘Industrial Revolution’.

Moreover, phonics contributes to a deeper understanding of historical texts. Many historical documents use archaic or complex language, but with solid phonics skills, students can decode these words and better understand the text.

For instance, reading a primary source document from the American Revolution may be challenging, but phonics can help students decode and understand the text, making the history come alive.

Phonics in Arts

Phonics can play a unique role in the field of arts as well, aiding both in the appreciation and creation of art.

While art is often seen as a visual medium, language plays a crucial role, particularly when interpreting or discussing art.

For example, understanding the phonetics of art-related words such as ‘sculpture’, ‘portrait’, or ‘abstract’ can help students better articulate their thoughts and ideas about a piece of art.

Breaking down these words into their phonetic components can make them easier to remember and pronounce.

Moreover, when creating art, children often like to incorporate words or phrases.

Here, phonics can aid in spelling and writing these words correctly. Consider an art project where students are asked to depict a word visually. Understanding the phonetics of the word can help students accurately represent it in their art.

In an art class, a teacher might introduce the term ‘Impressionism’. By breaking this term down phonetically into ‘Im-press-ion-ism’, students can more easily grasp, remember, and use the term in discussions or written work about art.

Therefore, phonics is not only valuable for traditional language-focused subjects but also in more visually oriented subjects like art.

Benefits of Applying Phonics Across the Curriculum

Improved Literacy Skills

Applying phonics across the curriculum can significantly improve students’ literacy skills. By consistently practising phonics in various subjects, students can enhance their reading, writing, and spelling abilities.

Enhanced Understanding of Various Subjects

Phonics can also make complex terms in subjects like mathematics, science, history, and arts more accessible.

By breaking down these terms into their phonetic components, students can understand and remember them more easily, enhancing their overall comprehension of the subject matter.

Interconnected Learning Experiences

Using phonics across different subjects can create interconnected learning experiences for students.

It shows them that the skills they learn in one area can be applied to others, fostering a more integrated understanding of their education.


The application of phonics across the curriculum is of paramount importance. It not only improves literacy skills but also enhances understanding of various subjects and creates interconnected learning experiences.

As shown through examples across mathematics, science, history, and arts, phonics can significantly aid in decoding language and understanding concepts.

Educators are, therefore, encouraged to incorporate phonics into their teaching methods across different subjects.

This approach not only aids in individual subject comprehension but also promotes an overarching understanding of how language plays a pivotal role in all areas of learning.

By doing so, they can enhance their students’ educational experience, paving the way for successful lifelong learning.

FAQs on Phonics Application

Q1: How does phonics link to the national curriculum?

A1: Phonics is a key part of the national curriculum for English in many countries. It is typically introduced in the early years of schooling to help children develop essential reading and spelling skills. The national curriculum outlines specific phonics skills that children should acquire at each grade level.

Q2: How can phonics be applied in a classroom?

A2: Phonics can be applied in various ways in a classroom setting. Teachers often use phonics worksheets, games, and interactive activities to teach phonics rules. In addition, phonics can also be integrated into other subjects to improve literacy across the curriculum.

Q3: How is phonics applied?

A3: Phonics is applied by breaking down words into their individual sounds or phonemes. This helps students understand how letters and groups of letters sound, which improves their reading and spelling abilities.

Q4: What are the applications of phonics skills?

A4: Phonics skills can be applied in many areas. They are fundamental for reading and writing in English. Additionally, they can also be useful in understanding complex terms in subjects like science, mathematics, history, and arts.

Q5: Why is phonics important in early education?

A5: Phonics is crucial in early education because it helps children decode words, enhancing their reading and spelling skills. It lays the foundation for literacy development and academic success in later years.

Q6: Can phonics be used to teach adults?

A6: Yes, phonics can be used to teach adults, especially those learning English as a second language or those who struggle with reading and spelling. It can help them understand the relationship between letters and sounds, making it easier for them to read and write in English.

Q7: How can parents support their children’s phonics learning at home?

A7: Parents can support their children’s phonics learning at home by engaging them in reading and spelling activities that reinforce phonics skills. They can also use phonics-based reading materials and resources available online or in educational stores.

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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