Lorraine Kennedy

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Are systematic synthetic phonics the most effective method to teach a child to read within the early year’s foundation stage.
According to Nick Gibb (2017, p.1) “Teaching children to read is the key to unlocking human potential. It is the cornerstone of education.” Jim Rose (2006), has stated reading fluency is the ability to identify written words quickly, accurately and effortlessly. Additionally, children who have a love of reading, will gain essential skills that leads to them accessing necessary information through to adulthood.

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The more children read, the easier it becomes to decode words phonetically, which in turns contributes to them mastering reading through automatic recognition (Rose, 2006). As part of synthetic systematic phonics, children are taught a range of skills to help them recognise a word or letter then verbally repeat it (gov.uk, 1997-2011). However, there appears to be some varying analogies from theorists regarding the way a child reads.

Kathleen Rustle (2015) has emphasised effective reading skills can only be achieved through contentious intervention, instruction and practice. Whereas, Kenn Apel, Elizabeth Wilson-Fowler, Danielle Brimo and Nancy Perrin, (2012) have included orthographic awareness which is an essential skill and contributes to word reading proficiency. Additionally, Apel et al (2012) believe that the spelling of words comes from the knowledge of associating different letters with sounds contributes to a child learning a word. Furthermore, Robbins and Ehri (1994) believe there are four ways in which a child learns to read; sight reading, phonological recoding, analysing sight words and contextual guessing (cited in Jeffrey Walczyk, 2007). Whereas, Jay Samuels and Richard Flor (1997) and Charles Perfetti (1999) have suggested that a person’s reading ability derives from both automaticity and verbal efficiency. This is often referred to as whole-word reading which requires reading a range of words on sight (Marilyn Adams, 1998). Although some analogies, the combined theories seemingly link to phonic instruction within reading.

Within the early years foundation stage (EYFS), children are often taught to read using systematic synthetic phonics via a range of suggested programmes such as; Read, Write, Inc1 See https://www.ruthmiskin.com/en/ for additional information regarding this phonics programme. ; Letters and Sounds2 See http://www.letters-and-sounds.com/ for additional information regarding this phonics programme. and Jolly Phonics3 See https://www.jollylearning.co.uk/ for additional information regarding this phonics programme. (gov.uk, 2018). Rose (2006) recommends children should be introduced to systematic synthetic phonics at the age of four which is when they move from nursery into reception. However, he has acknowledged that for some children this may be too young due to accompanying issues such as; speech and language issues; children who have English as an additional language and other special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Therefore, practitioners are instructed to use their professional judgement and introduce children to phonics when they will benefit the individual child.
Although phonics were not always widely favoured as a prime skill,

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