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What is a Trigraph in Phonics?

Written by: Kokotree

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what is a trigraph in phonics

As parents, helping our children develop strong reading and spelling skills is a top priority, and understanding phonics is a major part of that journey. In this blog post, we will explore the concept of trigraphs in phonics, an essential but often overlooked aspect of early reading development. So, what is a trigraph? Simply put, it’s a combination of three letters that represent a single sound, like ‘igh’ in ‘light’ or ‘tch’ in ‘catch.’ By learning to recognize and decode trigraphs, your child will be well on their way to becoming a more confident reader and speller!

What is a Trigraph in Phonics?

A trigraph in phonics is a combination of three letters that together represent a single sound. Examples of trigraphs include ‘igh’ in ‘light’ and ‘tch’ in ‘catch.’ Recognizing and decoding trigraphs is important for developing reading and spelling skills in early childhood education.

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The Importance of Trigraphs

Trigraphs play an important role in boosting a child’s reading and spelling abilities. They help children recognize and understand the individual sounds that make up words, allowing them to decode and read new words with ease. Familiarity with trigraphs also aids in building a child’s vocabulary and enhancing their overall language development.

How to Recognize and Teach Trigraphs

Learning to recognize and decode trigraphs may seem challenging at first, but with practice and a methodical approach, children can quickly master this skill. Here are some helpful tips for teaching trigraphs:

Introduce Trigraphs Gradually

Start by focusing on one or two common trigraphs, such as ‘igh’ or ‘tch.’ Give your child plenty of opportunities to practice recognizing and decoding these trigraphs in words.

Utilize Word Families

Word families are groups of words that share the same sound pattern. Encourage your child to identify trigraphs within word families to reinforce their understanding of these letter combinations and their associated sounds.

Incorporate Fun Activities

Make learning trigraphs enjoyable by incorporating hands-on activities, games, and stories. This will help your child remain engaged and motivated to learn.

Explore Learning Apps for Kids

A great way to supplement your child’s phonics education is by introducing a learning app for kids. Many of these apps are specifically designed to teach phonics concepts, such as recognizing and decoding trigraphs, through interactive games and activities. With these valuable resources at their fingertips, your child can practice phonics skills anytime, anywhere, and in a fun and engaging way.

Key Takeaways for Teaching Trigraphs

To effectively teach your child about trigraphs in phonics, remember the following key points:

  • Introduce trigraphs gradually and focus on common letter combinations.
  • Utilize word families to reinforce the concept of trigraphs.
  • Incorporate fun activities, games, and stories to make learning enjoyable.
  • Consider using a learning app for kids to enhance your child’s phonics education.

Additional Tips for Supporting Your Child’s Trigraph Learning

As your child begins to master trigraphs, you may find it helpful to provide additional support to keep their learning on track. Here are some valuable strategies to consider:

Create Visual Aids

Create flashcards, posters, or other visual aids to display common trigraphs around your home. This constant exposure will help reinforce your child’s understanding of letter combinations and their corresponding sounds.

Integrate Trigraphs into Daily Life

Encourage your child to identify trigraphs in everyday items such as books, signs, labels, and even on TV. This will help them recognize trigraphs in various contexts and develop their reading skills.

Practice Writing Trigraphs

Have your child practice writing words containing trigraphs to strengthen their understanding of how these letter combinations form words. Writing activities can also improve your child’s fine motor skills and handwriting.

Encourage Reading Aloud

Reading aloud allows your child to practice decoding words containing trigraphs and build their confidence in reading. Select age-appropriate books that feature trigraphs to make this practice more meaningful and enjoyable.

Team Up with Your Child’s Teacher

Stay in close communication with your child’s teacher to understand their progress with trigraphs and other phonics concepts. Teachers can offer valuable insights into your child’s learning and recommend specific strategies or resources to support their education at home.


By understanding the importance of trigraphs in phonics and implementing these supportive strategies, you can make a significant difference in your child’s reading and spelling skills. Keep the learning process fun, engaging, and consistent to ensure your child’s success in mastering trigraphs and other crucial phonics concepts.

FAQs about Trigraphs in Phonics

Here is a list of frequently asked questions to help provide a deeper understanding of trigraphs and their importance in phonics. This section will address common concerns and offer some informative insights related to this essential reading skill.

1. What is the difference between a trigraph and a digraph?

A digraph is a combination of two letters that represent a single sound, such as ‘ch’ in ‘chicken’ or ‘sh’ in ‘ship,’ whereas a trigraph is a combination of three letters that together represent a single sound, like ‘tch’ in ‘catch’ or ‘igh’ in ‘light.

2. At what age should children start learning trigraphs?

Children should start learning trigraphs once they have mastered digraphs, usually around the age of 5 or 6. However, this can vary based on your child’s individual development, learning pace, and familiarity with phonics concepts.

3. Are there any specific resources or books to teach trigraphs?

There are numerous resources available, like phonics-based storybooks, workbooks, and flashcards specifically designed to teach trigraphs. You can also find learning apps for kids that incorporate trigraphs into interactive games and activities.

4. What are some common examples of trigraphs?

Some common examples of trigraphs include ‘igh’ in ‘light,’ ‘tch’ in ‘catch,’ ‘dge’ in ‘bridge,’ and ‘ear’ in ‘hear.’

5. How can I quickly assess my child’s understanding of trigraphs?

You can ask your child to read aloud words containing trigraphs, identify trigraphs in written words, or practice writing words with trigraphs. These activities will give you a good indication of their understanding and mastery of trigraphs.

6. Can children learn trigraphs before digraphs?

It is generally recommended for children to learn digraphs first, as they are more common and provide a solid foundation for understanding more complex phonics concepts like trigraphs. However, individual learning styles and experiences may vary.

7. How long does it take for a child to master trigraphs?

The time it takes for a child to master trigraphs varies depending on factors like their age, learning ability, and level of exposure to phonics concepts. Regular practice and a structured teaching approach can help your child become proficient with trigraphs more quickly.

8. What is the best way to teach trigraphs to children with special needs?

It’s essential to adapt your teaching approach to match your child’s learning style and strengths. Consult with special education professionals, use multisensory techniques, and implement individualized learning aids and resources to best support your child.

9. Why is learning trigraphs important for spelling skills?

Trigraphs are crucial for spelling skills because they help children understand how letters combine to represent specific sounds. This knowledge allows them to encode words more accurately when spelling, enhancing their overall writing abilities.

10. Can you teach trigraphs through play?

Yes, you can incorporate games and other playful activities to make learning trigraphs more enjoyable. For example, you can create word puzzles, play phonics-based board games, or engage in matching activities that feature trigraphs.

11. Are there different ways to pronounce trigraphs in English?

No, a trigraph represents a single sound in English, regardless of the word in which it appears. This consistency makes it easier for children to identify and decode trigraphs when reading.

12. Do other languages have trigraphs, and do they function similarly?

Yes, other languages that use the Latin alphabet, like French or Spanish, may also have trigraphs or similar letter combinations. These trigraphs can function similarly to English trigraphs; however, they might have distinct pronunciations and letter combinations unique to the language.

13. How can I get my child more interested in learning trigraphs?

To pique your child’s interest in learning trigraphs, incorporate engaging and fun activities, read books that feature words with trigraphs, use learning apps, and emphasize the real-world relevance of trigraphs to help your child see the value in mastering this skill.

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