Phonics is a series of rules that children memorize and apply when they are sounding out new words. They must learn these letter-sounds to an automatic level (able to recognise the letter(s) and say the sound immediately).
Weak readers often over rely on just one strategy, such as picture and context. Fluent, skilled readers are those that have many strategies available to them. Phonics, the knowledge of sound-spelling relationships, is one of the most important reading strategies.
Comprehension levels, reading enjoyment and fluency is increased through being able to work out unfamiliar words. Children just map familiar sound patterns onto spellings, therefore decoding the word. Phonics just makes reading quicker and easier.
Phonetic knowledge also radically improves spelling abilities. Children are able to write down the sounds that they hear in words using the common sound-spelling patterns that they have learned.
Phonics rocks 😉