Research shows that the most successful readers and spellers start with a Synthetic Phonics approach.
Synthetic Phonics is a strange, technical name that has nothing to do with being artificial! The ‘synthetic’ name comes from the synthesising or blending of sounds to make a word and enable children to read.
The first step is to learn the sounds. Children are first taught to associate a letter (or letters) with a speech sound, e.g. the letter ‘s’ represents the ‘sss’ sound. As children progress they will learn that sometimes a sound can be represented by two letters (e.g. ‘ch’), sometimes three letters (e.g. ‘igh’ like in ‘sigh’) or even four letters (e.g. ‘eigh’ in ‘eight’)!
There are two main differences with Synthetic Phonics and other phonics methods in learning the sounds. Firstly, all 44 unique sounds of the English language are taught; not just the alphabet sounds. Secondly, children move onto blending with these sounds, quickly. The advantage of this is children connect the dots; they understand what to do with the sounds they have learned.
Once children have learned a group of sounds they can move onto reading with these sounds. The process of reading involves decoding or ‘breaking’ words into separate sounds, which can then be blended together to read an unknown word. Children tackle each word with four steps:
The process of spelling involves the opposite method to reading. It requires children to identify the sounds in a word and then to match a letter (or letters) with that sound, to essentially ‘make’ the word. This takes a five step process: