Synthetic Phonics Explained

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! It is the synthesising or blending of sounds to make a word and enable children to read. It’s so effective, that the methodology underpinning it, forms the core of the UK, USA and Australian government’s literacy curriculum!

Reading and Synthetic Phonics:

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.


Spelling and Synthetic Phonics:

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 with that sound, to essentially ‘make’ the word. This takes a five step process:

Synthetic phonics and spelling

At a glance Synthetic Phonics teaches children:

  • That spoken words are composed of sounds
  • The 44 sounds of the English language
  • To blend sounds in a word to read
  • To listen for sounds in words to spell
  • All the different ways each sound can be represented, e.g. the sound /a/ as in ‘apron’ can be spelled (‘ay’ like in ‘pay, ‘ai’ like in ‘paid’, ‘a’ like in ‘apron’, ‘eigh’ like in ‘eight’ and so on…)
  • Irregular, high frequency words (we call them camera or sight words), which are essential to help children progress the quality of their writing and move onto reading full sentences
  • The sound first and then the letter name