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Systematic Synthetic Phonics Programs

What is the Best Phonics Program?

Some of the best phonics programs are based on the synthetic phonics method. So what is synthetic phonics? This is an explicit method of teaching children reading based on "synthesizing" words from its individual sounds. It involves decoding all of the phonemes of a word and then blending those sounds together to form the complete word. For example, the 3 sounds of /d/ /o/ /g/ blends together to say the word "dog".  

Teaching synthetic phonics and phonemic awareness allows you to break down printed and spoken English into the smallest units, and start helping a child build a solid foundation in reading starting with those tiny elements known as phonemes, or individual units of sound. These sounds are associated with the alphabet letters, such as the sound /a/ (pronounced "ah") is associated with the letter A.

Support For Using Synthetic Phonics Programs

There is prevailing evidence to support the use of synthetic phonics programs to teach children to read. Many government organizations around the word have published reports citing the various benefits of using systematic synthetic phonics. For example, the National Reading Panel had stated that "when explicit phonics are directly taught, reading levels are higher for all students." 

In a white paper titled "The Importance of Teaching" published by the U.K. Department of Education, it had this to say about synthetic phonics: "Ensure that there is support available to every school for the teaching of systematic synthetic phonics, as the best method for teaching reading." [1] Certainly, there's plenty of support for using systematic synthetic phonics as one of the best phonics programs.

In addition to the above, we'd like to discuss one study published by the Scottish Executive Education Department. This was a 7 year study investigating the effects of teaching synthetic phonics compared to analytic phonics. The study involved 300 children who were taught 20 minutes per day for 16 weeks, using either synthetic phonics or analytic phonics. At the end of the teaching programs, the study found that children who were taught using synthetic phonics were reading around 7 months ahead of the analytic phonics group, and their spelling was 8 to 9 months ahead of the other groups. This study followed the students progress from Primary 1 to the end of Primary 7. At the end of the 7 year study, the children were reading 3.5 years ahead of their chronological age. [2]

Indeed, the effects and benefits of synthetic phonics instruction is enormous. Speaking from personal experience with our own children, we saw increasing development of our daughter's reading age compared to her chronological age as she progressed. We tested her reading age using several different reading tests including the Burt Test, the Wide Range Reading Test for Kindergarten to College, and the Word Reading Test from Quick Adult Reading Inventory. I believe that the combination of these tests gives a relatively accurate assessment of a child's reading age and level.

Using the Burt Test results, we did a test for Raine when she was 3 years 9 months old - about 1 year after we began teaching her to read - she was reading at a grade 2, 80th percentile level, with a reading age of about 7 years 7 months. We did the Burt Test 10 months later when she was 4 years and 7 months old. At that time, she was reading at a grade 4, 80th percentile level, with a reading age of 10 years 1 months. At the time of this writing, our second child, Ethan (2 years 8 months old), has just spent the last 3 months learning to read, going through our phonics program. We expect that he'll achieve similar reading skills as his older sister.

Small children, as young as 2 years old can learn to read, and read effectively using a combination of synthetic phonics along with phonemic awareness instructions. We taught our daughter to read at 2 years 11 months old, and taught our son to read at 2 years 8 months old. We have helped thousands of other parents teach their children to read as well with our super simple, step-by-step phonics reading program.

Please watch the short presentation below to learn more about our simple, but super effective phonics program that will teach your child to read and help your child become a fast and fluent reader.




1. The Importance of Teaching: Schools White Paper:Curriculum, assessment and qualifications
U.K. Department of Education, Item 12.

2. A Seven Year Study of the Effects of Synthetic Phonics Teaching on Reading and Spelling Attainment
Rhona S Johnston and Joyce E Watson
Scottish Executive Education Department


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