Phonics involves the relationships between printed letter and their corresponding sound in language.
“The study of phonics can give teachers and students a sense of the great intellectual feat of the development of alphabetic writing. According to historians, the development of the alphabet is one of the great intellectual achievements of mankind. When used by children, its main purpose is to gain knowledge and skill in identifying words not recognized immediately.” (Teaching and Assessing Phonics Chall, Jeanne S.; Popp, Helen 1996)
Children have to develop an awareness of the sounds that make up words in order to understand and use the sound-letter relationships. This is called phonological awareness.
To learn and use phonics, children must be able to hear phonemes. Phonemes are represented in print by single letters or, by letter combinations such as ck which stands for the sound /k/, or kn which stands for the sound /n/.
The ability to use phonics helps children in primary school as they learn to read. How easily children develop skill in phonics can depend on emergent literacy skills they learn in the preschool years and their ability to hear the sounds in language.