In order to become readers, children need to learn the systematic relationship between code and sound.

With only 44 sounds to learn, systematic phonics reduces a reader’s cognitive load.

Why phonemics?

In order to become readers, children need to learn the systematic relationship between code and sound. This is the first step. Meaning and comprehension will come later: children arrive at the meaning of words through orthographic mapping via speech. As children sound out the graphemes, they are able to make connections between words that look and sound the same.

Phonics reduces the cognitive load: there are only 44 sounds in the English language. Instead of learning thousands of words, children may begin with these graphemes. As children learn to decode these sounds, they are able to connect the graphemes to words. Children begin to recognise words and store them in their long-term memory. These words become “sight words”, which they are then able to identify without any conscious effort.

Decoding is the pathway to meaning.

Recognising the need to return to word decoding to promote literacy, and eschewing the practice of balanced literacy—where children often guess words based on context—the NSW Education Department has called for schools to explicitly teach systematic synthetic phonics, or blended phonics. They have introduced phonics screening as part of their new systematic synthetic phonics curriculum.

Systematic phonics is a core foundational necessity that serves as a building block for literacy and fluency.

Phonics Screening Year 1

The Research Behind Teaching Synthetic Phonics

For an in-depth look at the research and methods behind teaching systematic, synthetic phonics, watch Jennifer Buckingham’s presentation given at the 2019 Literacy Summit.

For additional videos and resources similar to this once, view the Five From Five events page.