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Systematic Phonics

Updated: Mar 12, 2023

An important component of our tutoring programs is phonics. I wanted to share a little more about why we teach phonics using a systematic phonics approach.

Systematic Phonics

Synthetic phonics programs are characterized by teaching phonics elements sequentially using an explicit and systematic approach.

"Synthetic phonics programs teach children to convert letters into sounds or phonemes and then blend the sounds to form recognizable words" (National Reading Panel, Page 89)

It would also be helpful to identify what is not systematic phonics. Phonics programs which introduce or teach phonics skills as they appear in the text (i.e. leveled reader) or do not have a rigorous scope and sequence.

On my March break, I read chapter 2 of the "National Reading Panel - Teaching Children To Read: An Evidence-Based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature of Reading and Its Implications for Reading Instruction". The 400+ page document is definitely worth the read and I have enjoyed going back and taking out little nuggets of truth. I wanted to share a few of those nuggets of truth as they connect to the validity of using systematic phonics.

Nuggets of Truth


"Systematic phonics instruction makes a more significant contribution to children’s growth in reading than do alternative programs providing unsystematic or no phonics instruction" (pg. 132)


"The conclusion drawn is that specific systematic phonics programs are all more effective than non-phonics programs" (pg. 132).


"All three delivery systems proved to be effective ways of teaching phonics, with effect sizes of d = 0.57 (tutoring), d = 0.43 (small group), and d = 0.39 (whole class)" (pg. 93)


"Growth in reading comprehension is also boosted by systematic phonics instruction for younger students and reading disabled students" (pg. 94)


"Systematic phonics instruction is significantly more effective than non-phonics instruction in helping to prevent reading difficulties among at-risk students" (pg. 133)


"Systematic phonics instruction helped children at all SES levels make greater gains in reading than did non-phonics instruction". (pg. 134)

At Latch Onto Learning, we base our literacy programs on best practice. We would love to set up a phone call and get started developing a research-based tutoring program that is customized to your child's needs.

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