Many Australian primary school children struggling with reading and writing are placed in the ‘Reading Recovery’ program. However, there has been significant debate about its effectiveness. Research shows that children need explicit (clear, carefully planned) teaching of the skills needed to be strong readers and writers. We recommend that speech pathologists, teachers and parents work together to implement approaches based on systematic synthetic phonics.
So what exactly is systematic synthetic phonics?
- Systematic = ordered from simple to complex; follows a plan or system; organised; consistent
- Synthetic = blended/joined
- Phonics = speech sound – letter(s) relationships
Students are taught the 44 speech sounds in the English language and the letter combinations that make those sounds. The aim is for children to become fluent at decoding, ie. cracking the alphabet code. When children can ‘sound out’ words efficiently and easily, they are empowered to focus their energy on comprehending (processing and understanding) the meaning of the written words.
It is an evidence-based approach that benefits all students, including those with learning difficulties like dyslexia. If your child has speech sound difficulties, s/he is also at risk of literacy difficulties.
Watch this space for part 3 of this newsletter which will contain lots of resources to improve literacy skills…
Seek help early, don’t wait and see! Well-meaning family and friends may tell you not to worry but you are the expert on your child.