Explicit Phonics

Our phonics curriculum, which requires students to hear, to see, to say, and to write letter combinations also develops habits of care, neatness, and patience from an early age.

At Cincinnati Classical Academy, we teach our students the essential building blocks of English to give them a thorough understanding of the language to enhance reading, writing, and spelling. Our goal is to teach our students the rules of our rich but unpredictable language so they can read with confidence and fluency.

So, instead of teaching children to memorize the pronunciation of whole words by sight recognition, we teach our students how words work. In reading, we discuss all the different sounds a letter or letter combinations may make, and in spelling we teach all the ways a sound may be spelled. This approach to teaching reading and spelling is known as “explicit phonics.” It includes systematic instruction that guides young students using a step-by-step, logical sequence that allows them to decode words. 

At CLASSICAL we use Literacy Essentials published by the Hillsdale College K-12 Education department and grounded in the Orton-Gillingham method of phonics instruction.

Learning to Read

Beginning in kindergarten, students learn the “basic code” of English: 71 phonograms for 43 elementary sounds, which compose almost every English word. A phonogram is the written expression of a sound. Students learn, for example, that the letter “a” has four main sounds, and that in certain circumstances “a” will sound like mad and in others like made, in others like all or talk. Phonograms such as these are the primary and most basic components of an explicit phonics program. 

Learning to Spell

Students at Cincinnati Classical Academy also learn 47 different spelling rules that help them combine phonograms in correct writing. Because English is a mixture of several languages – principally Latin, Anglo-Saxon, German, and French—students must learn explicit rules to make sense of English’s richness and variety. 

This curriculum, which requires students to hear, to say, and to write phonemes also develops habits of care, neatness, and patience from an early age. This is an integral aspect of the Classical education we offer our students. 

According to the National Institute of Literacy, systematic and explicit phonics instruction significantly improves kindergarten and first-grade children’s word recognition, spelling, and reading comprehension