Building blocks of reading
Phonics focuses on the sounds of letters and words
- "Sounding out" words as a way of figuring out new words. For example, in a phonics lesson, "moon" would be sounded out as "mm-oo-nn."
- Practice worksheets or exercises on letter sounds, matching pictures with spoken words, short vowel/long vowel or letter of the week.
Whole language focuses on comprehension
- Teaching reading and writing throughout the day in the context of the lesson topics
- Teachers emphasizing storybooks rather than worksheets as well as multiple writing opportunities
A balanced approach can help all children learn to read
An effective reading program
- Recognize that students learn to read in a certain order: first they must understand that words are made up of different sounds, then associate sounds with written words, and finally they can decode words and read groups of words.
- Students who have trouble learning to read need to be specifically taught the relationships of letters, words and sounds. (Awareness of letter/sound relationships is the main tool good readers use to decode unfamiliar words.)
- Each child needs a different amount of practice to be a fluent reader.
- Phonics instruction should be based on individual student needs and taught as part of a comprehensive, literature-based reading program.
- Abundant opportunities for children to read at their own reading level help them to learn to read for meaning and enjoy reading.
- Highly trained teachers can help children develop good, overall literacy skills: good vocabularies, knowledge of correct syntax and spelling, reasoning skills and questioning skills.
Reading instruction for children with learning disabilities
Early warning signs of learning disabilities
- Slow to learn the connection between letters and sounds
- Difficulty "sounding out" unknown words
- Repeatedly misidentifying known words
- Makes consistent reading and spelling errors including letter reversals (b/d), inversions (m/w), transpositions (felt/left), and substitutions (house/home)
- Transposes number sequences and confuses arithmetic signs (+, -, x, /, =)
- Difficulty understanding or remembering what is read because so much time and effort is spent figuring each word