In order to progress to reading and writing, a child must first understand that there is a correlation between letters and sounds, and that these letters (with their sounds) come together to form words with sounds. This is something educators have understood for quite some time, but it has only been in recent years that the importance of this has been known within a preschool curriculum. Kindergartners are now expected to know the fundamentals of basic reading and writing, but before they can do this, they must develop their understanding of phonics in preschool. As implied before, phonics is the ability to understand a correspondence between written letters/words and their sounds (Julie, 2012).
When children start to "sound out" words from beginner's learn-to-read books, they are using phonics to understand the sounds they see on the pages. This is the bridge that allows children to go from simply understanding auditory components of words, phonological awareness, to the beginning stages of reading (Semingson, 2011). Like phonemic awareness, it focuses on segmenting parts of words to create an understanding of how those words sound. It is vital that a child have a firm grasp of phonemes, and phonological awareness in general, before moving on to phonics. Without phonological awareness, a child will not be able to segment a written word or letter and understand that there is a corresponding sound that goes with it (Gelser, 2014).