Instructional approaches to teaching systematic phonics/alphabetic principle

Instructional Approaches to Phonics 

The National Reading Panel Report (NRP) states-

In teaching phonics explicitly and systematically, several different instructional approaches have been used. These include.

  • synthetic phonics
  • analytic phonic,
  • embedded phonics
  • analogy phonics
  • onset-rime phonics
  • phonics through spelling

Although all explicit, systematic phonics approaches use a planned, sequential introduction of a set of phonic elements along with teaching and practice of those elements, they differ across a number of other features. For example, the content covered ranges from a limited to an elaborate set of letter-sound correspondences and phonics generalizations. In addition, the application procedures taught to children vary. 

  • Synthetic phonics programs teach children to convert letters into sounds or phonemes and then blend the sounds to form recognizable words.
  • Analytic phonics avoids having children pronounce sounds in isolation to figure out words. Rather children are taught to analyse letter-sound relations once the word is identified.  
  • Phonics through-spelling programs teach children to transform sounds into letters to write words. Phonics in context approaches teach children to use sound-letter correspondences along with context cues to identify unfamiliar words they encounter in text. 
  • Analogy phonics programs teach children to use parts of written words they already know to identify new words.

The distinctions between systematic phonics approaches are not absolute, however, and some phonics programs combine two or more of these types of instruction. 

What we do know is the (NRP) proved in the research providing evidence that systematic synthetic phonics was the best instructional approach for children with reading disabilities and for improving children affected by a low socioeconomic status (SES). See below.

  • Systematic synthetic phonics instruction had a positive and significant effect on disabled readers’ reading skills. These children improved substantially in their ability to read words and showed significant, albeit small, gains in their ability to process text as a result of systematic synthetic phonics instruction. This type of phonics instruction benefits both students with learning disabilities and low-achieving students who are not disabled. Moreover, systematic synthetic phonics instruction was significantly more effective in improving low socioeconomic status (SES) children’s alphabetic knowledge and word reading skills than instructional approaches that were less focused on these initial reading skills.

Insert taken from the National Reading Panel Report (NRP) and findings.

You can print this quick share as a PDF here Instructional approaches to teaching systematic phonics/alphabetic principle

Short Version – Report of the National Reading Panel | NICHD –

Full Report – The National Reading Report PDF online pages 2-89

Created by Sharon Scurr on 3 October 2023 for Dyslexia Awareness Month