Systematic synthetic phonics instruction creates confident readers

Connor has severe dyslexia and a specific learning disorder with impairment in written expression. He also has a diagnosis of autism.

At the age of eight and a half, Connor was unable to read any words except his name and a couple of high frequency words. He had major difficulties with the formation of letters when writing and was unable to sound out words to read or write them.

After 12 months of individual speech pathology sessions and plenty of follow-up work at home, Connor is now able to read short texts and is beginning to write sentences. This transformation from a child who could not read to a confident reader has been exciting to witness.

Evidence based reading programs like Sounds-Write are essential.

Connor is following an evidence-based phonics program called Sounds-Write. Sounds-Write is suitable for whole school instruction, small groups and individual interventions.

Children learn the sounds and their corresponding spellings in a very structured way. Throughout the program, they also practice the skills of:

· blending sounds together

· segmenting words into sounds

· manipulating sounds in words

Decodable Readers

The Literacy Team use decodable readers to support each child’s learning. Decodable readers are books which focus on particular spellings for each sound and are introduced at all stages of the program.

As a not-for-profit organisation, Early Connections was delighted to receive a grant from CSU and Eire Constructions to purchase much-needed literacy resources including a significant library of excellent decodable readers.

Schools in New South Wales already receive funding from the Department of Education for decodable readers; the Literacy Team at Early Connections urges all local schools to take up the offer of decodable readers for Kindy children so that children are given the best possible evidence-based start to their formal reading instruction.

Identifying the need

The current educational funding model does not support children with ADHD, Dyslexia and DLD (Developmental Language Disorder).

These children do not usually receive individually targeted funding so are vulnerable to academic failure within the school setting. Approximately 50 percent of children will struggle to achieve functional literacy without explicit, systematic and sequential literacy instruction.

The Literacy Team at Early Connections was set up with a view to helping, not only these children but, all children who struggle to learn to read and write.

Reading experts agree that explicit teaching of systematic phonics is the most successful teaching method for children with dyslexia and specific learning difficulties. Importantly, this approach, although essential for some children, also benefits all children in the classroom and will support not only their efforts to read but their spelling skills too.

Early Connections look forward to helping more children like Connor with best practice evidence-based literacy programs.

The new Early Connections service supports families with children aged 4 – 12 to optimise children’s reading and writing skills.

Thank you CSU and Eire Constructions

Thanks to our supporters CSU and Eire Constructions for their generous donations towards decodable readers and assistive technology for our service.

Early Connections successfully applied for the CSU Education Community-University Partnerships (CUP) funding and the Eire Constructions Sponsorship. Their support is helping us to lift literacy in the Hastings and support regional families. Thank you.

Useful links

Interested in supporting your children or students with literacy follow these links for more information.