Using Phonics to Help Non-Verbal Learners with Reading

Using Phonics to Help Non-Verbal Learners with Reading

Learning to read is a key milestone for children, but for non-verbal learners the process can feel overwhelming and intimidating. Utilizing tools like phonics during instruction can help make the journey more manageable and enjoyable.

Phonics is a method of teaching reading that focuses on connecting sounds with letters and their corresponding symbols. This means rather than focusing on abstract words alone, children focus on the building blocks of language instead. By breaking down literacy into smaller, more manageable chunks students can be guided through understanding both spelling and vocabulary at once.

When teaching phonics to non-verbal learners, it’s important for teachers to encourage expression in any way possible; even if it’s something as simple as pointing or gesturing towards things they recognize during lessons. Additionally, focusing mainly on short vowel words at first will also help keep lessons simpler and allow students to focus on one concept at a time while still making meaningful progress overall.

As with any instructional approach, having an understanding of what each student knows prior to instruction is essential in order to maximize engagement and comprehension levels. Assessments such as flashcard recognition or picture ordering can provide guidance on how best to move forward with each student in order achieve positive outcomes. Likewise, incorporating visuals when introducing new concepts (such as sentence strips) can also help increase fluency while still providing them with necessary support systems throughout the process.

By using phonics and other visual aids alongside direct instruction techniques, teachers have the power to channel their students’ strengths in ways that result in meaningful learning experiences that last longer than just one lesson plan or day of school.


  • Mertzentein, B. (2018). Instructional approaches necessary to teach children who are nonverbal. The International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 53(2), 266–276.



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