There are several different types of approaches when it comes to teaching phonics, but here are some of the main ones. With synthetic phonics children are taught to read and spell at the same time. They are taught to convert letters into sounds and then to blend those sounds to form words. For example “d-o-g” would be “dog”, or “sh-oo-t” for “shoot”. By way of reversing this process, children are also encouraged to pull words apart, or “segment” them, in order to reveal their constituent parts. So the word “sleep” would be separated (or segmented) as “s-l-ee-p”. With a synthetic phonics approach, it is important that children are not introduced at too early a stage to words that might be too difficult for them. This helps to ensure that they are constantly successful and this, in turn, boosts self-confidence.
With synthetic phonics, children are introduced to the various sounds and blends that make up the English language, as well as some other common rules. They are taught to understand the alphabet in such a way that if they come across a word that they do not recognize, they are encouraged not to guess, but rather to use their knowledge to independently work out how this new words should be pronounced. Analytical phonics can be seen as the complete opposite of synthetic phonics. Rather than being asked to blend sounds together to form words like they are in synthetic phonics, instead they will start with the whole word and then analyse just a part of it. For example, a teacher may write a list of words such as ‘clown’, ‘town’, ‘brown’ and ‘down’. The teacher will then draw the children’s attention to the “ow” blend that all of these words have in common. In analytical phonics children may also be exposed to many consonant blends, such as ‘gr’, ‘st’ and ‘pl’.
Hairy Phonics is a good phonics resource for parents and teachers: http://www.hairyphonics.com/ and explains about the different types of phonics approach.