The systematic and explicit teaching of synthetic phonics has been identified by literacy practitioners in the US, Australia, and the UK as one of the most effective strategies for students to develop their phonemic awareness. Synthetic phonics is the identification and blending of the 44 unique sounds that make up all the words in the English language. When a child can sound out each letter of the alphabet, they have a core skill that is required to read and spell effectively.
To develop this core skill, systematic, regular teaching sessions of 10 – 20 minutes each day of synthetic phonics has been shown to be the most effective for developing phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate sounds in spoken words. In our Phonics Program, students learn that a word is made up of a series of discrete sounds. It is this knowledge that enables them to sound out whole words when reading and spelling.
The following table outlines the strategies our program includes to build up each student’s phonemic awareness:
|Phonemic Building Strategies
|Develop a kinesthetic awareness of sounds (What does it look like to sound out the letter p?)
|Blend two words into a compound with an auditory prompt (blend the words rain + bow into rainbow)
|Blend one-syllable words from an auditory prompt (blends the sounds b–ŭ–g into bug)
|Recognise and distinguish between similar sounds (Notice the similarities between /th/ in thin and /TH/ in then)
|Segment one-syllable words (segment cat into /k – a – t/)
|Isolate the initial sound (identify /b/ as the first sound in build)
|Change the initial sound to create new words (change cat into that, hat, pat)
|Isolate the final sound (identify /k/ as the final sound in block)
|Change the final sound to make new words (change met into mess, men)
|Isolate the medial vowel sound (identify /ě/ as the medial sound in nest)
|Blend two-syllable words (blend the sounds /b – ǎ – s – k – ě – t/ into basket)
|Rhyme one-syllable words (cart, part, smart, and art)