What is Synthetic Phonics?
The Most Effective Method to Teach Reading
Here, we discussed several different types of phonics strategies and approaches, and in this article, we will go into some details about systematic synthetic phonics - also known as explicit phonics. This is a method that teaches children how to convert graphemes (text) into phonemes (sound) and then blend that together to derive the word. This follows a bottom-up approach starting with the smallest units of language.
As the name suggests, synthetic phonics is about synthesizing words from individual sounds, and this is a phenomenally effective strategy for teaching children to read. In fact, this approach can be distilled down to an extremely sequential, logical, and super simple approach that it's even possible to use it to teach children as young as 2 and 3 years old to read phonetically. Here's a video showing a 2 year 8 months old toddler's reading progress after 4 and 8 weeks of reading instructions:
There are many other videos posted on our site, but we will just show this one here. As you can see, the little boy is able to read by "synthesizing" words from the sounds represented by the text.
There is a lot of scientific research behind systematic synthetic phonics which supports the use of this method for teaching kids to read. In a report published by the government of BC in Canada, it stated that implicit phonics relies too much on memory work and does not give at-risk students the foundation needed to learn to read. Furthermore, this report also stated:
"Explicit phonics work for all students but are particularly helpful for students at risk for reading difficulty. When teachers are properly trained and explicit phonics are directly taught, reading levels are higher for all students."
An extensive report published by the National Reading Panel (NRP) also found that synthetic phonics instructions produce fantastic reading results, even for children who have difficulties in learning to read. This phonics approach also enhances the spelling abilities of students as well.
In a 7 year long Scottish study published by the Scottish Executive Education Department, it compared the effects of synthetic phonics against analytic phonics. While all children benefited greatly from the phonics programs, this study found that the students who learned using synthetic phonics instructions were reading 7 months ahead and spelling 9 months ahead of the analytic group.
Should You Use Synthetic Phonics?
This approach is absolutely the most effective at teaching students and young children to read. It not only produces better reading results than all other phonics strategies, but it can even benefit at-risk children with reading difficulties. Not only that, this approach can be made so effective that even 2.5 year old toddlers can learn to read phonetically.
The synthetic phonics learning approach has been combined with teaching phonemic awareness in the Children Learning Reading program to produce amazing reading results in children of all ages.
To learn more about how you can easily teach your child to read, click here.