It is commonly assumed that teaching phonics in schools is a fundamental aspect of early education. However, many public schools do not prioritize the intensive instruction of basic phonics, which can lead to challenges for children, particularly those with a diagnosis of Specific Learning Disorder in reading or Dyslexia. While young children in Kindergarten are taught how to read and take computer tests, foundational phonics skills are often overlooked.
The significance of prioritizing phonics cannot be overstated, as it plays a critical role in developing strong reading skills. When children are pushed through grades and tests, they often learn how to memorize words instead of decoding them, making them less proficient readers. This is particularly true for older children who struggle with decoding new words because they have not learned the rules of the English language.
I have worked with many children in the 5th or 6th grade who are really just faking it the best they can because they never truly learned the rules of the English language and struggle with decoding any new words that they have not memorized.
For children who are struggling with decoding, one of the first steps is to teach them about vowels. Long vowels and vowel teams, along with their corresponding rules, are essential components of phonemic awareness, which is the fundamental basis for becoming a proficient reader. In Kindergarten, children learn the sounds of the alphabet, short vowels, and how to sound out CVC words. CVC words, such as "cat," "map," and "log," are easily decodable. Sight words, which are frequently used in daily life, but not as easily decodable as CVC words, are usually introduced by teachers at a rate of 1-3 new words per week. Reading difficulties in children can arise from various factors, including previous diagnoses or a lack of proper instruction during early academic years. In such cases, it is crucial to address the root of the issue, rather than masking it with a temporary solution.
Reading with children at home can be instrumental in cultivating early literacy skills. Previous studies have shown the benefits of reading to children in the womb and as infants, and particularly when they are reaching the age to learn to read. Therefore, it is essential to recognize the importance of phonics instruction and support children in developing a strong foundation in phonemic awareness to become successful readers.
If you think your child might not have the best phonics foundation, it's never too late to get back to the basics! This website gives a great set of steps of the order children should be learning how to read as well as activities to do with them.
If you would like some help, never hesitate to reach out to me, either for resources or for tutoring for your child.