Explain the use of systematic synthetic phonics in the teaching of reading

Qualification: NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Educator
Unit: Unit 3.5: Develop emergent literacy skills of children
Learning outcome: Understand strategies which support emergent literacy
Assessment criteria: Explain the use of systematic synthetic phonics in the teaching of reading


Systematic synthetic phonics is a method of teaching reading which focuses on helping children understand that each letter in the alphabet or group of letters represents a particular sound.

It involves breaking down words into their smaller parts, such as sounds and syllables, and connecting these to the letters they represent. This approach enables children to ‘sound out’ unfamiliar words using their knowledge of sounds and letters and gradually build up a bank of sight words which do not follow conventional phonics rules. Systematic synthetic phonics emphasises practice and mastery of basic skills before progressing to more complex texts and encourages children to become active problem solvers.


It is systematic because it presents sounds to a child in a set order of increasing difficulty. It is synthetic because it involves putting letters together to make a particular sound.

Phonics is usually taught to children aged 5 to 7 (from Reception to Year 2 of school), however, some nurseries may introduce the concept of phonics to pre-school as part of the preparation.

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