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Why Phonics?

What is Synthetic Phonics?

Synthetic Phonics is a method of teaching children to read and spell the English language. It involves the explicit and systematic teaching of the relationship between speech sounds and the spelling patterns that represent them. The aim of Synthetic Phonics instruction is to initially teach the most common sound-spelling correspondences so that the children can learn to synthesise, or blend together the sounds in the words.  Research demonstrates that the most successful readers and spellers start with a solid foundation in Synthetic Phonics.  Synthetic Phonics is the process of synthesising or blending the sounds of letters to make words and thus enabling your student/child to develop the ability to read.

Why Synthetic Phonics?

Research shows that Synthetic Phonics is the most effective way to teach a child to read. Here in Australia, the National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy, 2005, recommended that teachers provide systematic, direct and explicit phonics instruction.  The independent review of the primary curriculum in the UK, The Rose Report, 2006, mandated that Synthetic Phonics be implemented in all English and Welsh schools. In addition, The National Reading Panel, 2006, in the USA concluded that systematic phonics instruction had significant benefits for students throughout the primary years.

Why learn the sound-spelling correspondences?

Our English language consists of 44 sounds yet there are only 26 letters of the alphabet. This means that it is necessary for letters to be combined to represent the remaining speech sounds. Two letters can be combined to make one sound such as ch (digraph) in chip to represent the /ch/ sound, whereas the three letters tch  (trigraph) are used in the word catch to also represent the /ch/ sound. Quadgraphs are four letters that combine to make one sound and can be found in words such as: through, straight, eight. It is important for children to recognise the sound-spelling correspondences and apply this knowledge when blending the sounds in the words. The teaching of these correspondences is most effective when introduced systematically by commencing with the most common vowels and consonants through to the more complex alternative spellings.

Why use Phonics Australia’s Resources?

Phonics Australia has sourced resources from the UK and Australia that provide an explicit and systematic approach to the teaching of reading and spelling. This structured approach is beneficial for both initial reading instruction and for students with reading difficulties.

All the Phonic Book and Little Learner resources provide a sequential phonic progression which allows the children to learn to read as they learn the letters of the alphabet. With this Synthetic Phonic approach, the children learn, for example, the sound-spelling correspondences of the letters s, a, t, i, m and blend these sounds together to form VC (Vowel, Consonant) and CVC (Consonant, Vowel, Consonant) words. These reading and resource books support the child by providing only content that is decodable.

The Top Tips For Teaching Phonics  (Supplied by Phonic Books UK)

1. Step-by-step
You don’t need to teach the whole alphabet to get reading going. Start with a few letters and get children to build words with them. Our series starts with the sounds s, a, t, i, m.

2. Word-building rocks!
Word-building is the best way to teach reading and spelling. Write the letters on cards and ask the children to build a CVC word, e.g. ‘mat’. This way children can clearly see how letters spell sounds and how those sounds can be blended into words.

3. Teach reading and spelling together
Always include spelling as part of your reading lessons. Spelling is the reverse activity of reading and once children understand this, they will start to find plausible phonic spellings in their own writing.

4. Blending forever
When reading with children use ‘blending’ as the strategy for reading a new word. If the child has not come across a spelling in a word – the teacher can tell them the sound and the pupil can add the letter/sounds they already know to blend the word. This can also work with high-frequency words.

5. Practice and more practice
Most people need to practice a skill before they become proficient. This is essential in reading as we are aiming to develop automaticity and fluency. A great way to practice and consolidate what has been taught is to offer decodable books and a variety of phonic games.

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