We begin to model sounds and words for our children when they are very young. Some children have difficulty pronouncing specific sounds, which is very common. Parents may be apprehensive about specific skill instruction at home. Many times I've heard parents say "I'm afraid I'm going to teach it wrong!" These are three fast and easy ways to reinforce phonics skills at home.

Choose a "sound of the day"Give your child two examples (cat and car) then see if he can generate his own words. Serve foods and play with toys that start with that sound. Call a relative on the phone and have them name an item with the sound of the day. Read books in which the main character's name starts with that sound.

Go on a phonics huntChoose a sound and search the house for items that start with that sound. Place items in a basket and have your child label each at the end of the hunt. Pick up an item that does not begin with the designated sound and ask your child if he thinks the item should go in the basket.

Make phonics flash cardsDon't be afraid of flash cards! Most people think of boring, monotonous drills when thinking of flash cards but you can use them in a fun game that livens up the use of this educational tool. For pre-school age students, make flash cards by drawing or pasting one picture on each index card. For kindergarten and first grade students put a letter on each card. Get three plastic cups and place an index card under each cup. Ask your child to guess the location of one of the pictures or sounds. When she chooses the wrong sound, have her sound it out anyway. (That's not c-cat that's b-bat! or That's not /b/ that's /p/!)

If your child is having difficulty with a sound, you may want to repeat the games a few times. Remember - children learn from mistakes, too! Don't be afraid to try these games with your children and have fun with phonics!

Jennifer Cerbasi teaches at a public school for children on the autism spectrum in New Jersey. As a coordinator of Applied Behavioral Analysis programs in the home, she works with parents to create and implement behavioral plans for their children in an environment that fosters both academic and social growth. In addition to her work both in the classroom and at home, she is also a member of the National Association of Special Education Teachers and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Jennifer is an educational consultant who works with families and educators to establish healthy and productive routines in the home and school. Adapting behavior management techniques she implemented for years as a special educator, she helps parents and teachers adopt these tools to fit their unique needs and priorities. Jennifer also speaks to parent and education groups on current topics in education and children's health. Visit www.jennifercerbasi.com