Thursday, December 08, 2005

Phonics wins again

An Australian coalition has published the newest report on phonics v. whole language and according to this news article whole language goes down hard--again.

The inquiry calls for schools to embrace "systematic direct phonics instruction so children master the essential alphabetic code-breaking skills required for foundational reading proficiency".

You can read the report from the AU government site here. They also have recommendations for parents at this page. The report tells parents that in the first three years of schooling children do best if there is an integrated approach to teaching reading that includes:
  • phonemic awareness: the ability to hear and manipulate the sounds in oral language
  • phonics: the relationship between letters and sounds
  • fluency: the ability to read quickly and naturally, recognize words automatically, and group words quickly
  • vocabulary knowledge: new words and what they mean; and
  • text comprehension: understand what is being read and developing higher order thinking skills.
Homeschoolers can tell you from experience that MOST children do well with systematic phonics instruction. It's not difficult to teach and it can be done inexpensively. I used the same $25.00 book for each of my own four children. So for $6.25 each and a library card they were well on their way to reading Lord of the Rings and Shakespeare as well as math and science texts. And their mother, a voracious reader despite learning via the Dick and Jane method, learned to read even better. Parents: if your child's school isn't utilizing phonics, take the job on yourself--it's worth the time.

This skill is too important for 'experimenting' with. My own brother suffered from a reading experiment in the '60's. I don't' wish that on any child. In my conversations with a juvenile parole officer it's not unusual for their charges to suffer from the inability to read well. That leads to frustration which leads to acting out. We've got to get this right. This skill is the first most important step to being a self-sufficient adult and citizen.

1 comment:

Dana said...

Just stumbled across this as I was working on an article on phonemic awareness on my blog. Good stuff...I suffered through many whole-language workshops in my teacher training and it always seemed like the speakers were desperately seeking ways to convince people to stay on a sinking ship.