Friday, May 20, 2005
Phonics - A Step in the Reading Skills Pyramid
"Mastering phonics is a key to reading." - Everyone would agree.
"Mastering phonics is the key to reading." - Oddly, that statement is controversial.
Lined up on one side are a group who at the extreme, are a phonics-loving-let's-get-back-to-basics-types and on the other extreme are the whole-word-free-spirit-types. It is true that this phonics debate is somewhat ridiculous in that anyone who teaches reading knows that different children learn differently and that almost all children benefit from a balance. All children must master phonics: it's just a question of whether phonics should be the focus.
The NCLB (No Child Left Behind) mandate organized reading skills into five areas: phonemic (& phonological) awareness, phonics, comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency. They recognized that without the prereading skills of understanding how sounds are like reusable building blocks to construct words (t + at = hat, f + at = fat, etc.) and a trained ear to discriminate between assonant sounds (listen closely and you'll hear that "three" is a different word than "free" or "tree"), a child will not succeed at phonics. ( Put another way, phonemic & phonological awareness are key pre-reading or pre-phonics skills.)
Incidentally, I just read a great homeschooling-phonics blog and a blog on the politicalization of the phonics vs whole-word discussion.
Time4Learning takes the approach highlighted by the Reading Skills Pyramid and believes that successfully learning to read requires mastery of several skills (mastery of phonics & vocabulary, among others), not to mention having dedicated motivation.
at 11:39 PM