This study examined the cognitive skills associated with early reading development when children were taught by different types of instruction. Seventy-nine children (mean age at pre-test 4;10 (22 S.D.) and post-test 5;03 (21 S.D.)) were taught to read either by an eclectic approach which included sight-word learning, guessing from context and analytic phonics, or by a synthetic phonics approach, where children were taught solely to sound and blend letters to read unfamiliar words. The results illustrated differences in the skills supporting children's word reading based on their method of reading instruction. For the eclectic group, pre-test letter knowledge, vocabulary and rhyming skills predicted later reading ability, whereas for the synthetic phonics group, letter knowledge, phonemic awareness and memory span predicted later reading skill. The results suggest that children will draw upon different cognitive skills when reading if they are taught to use different word recognition strategies.