Phonics Is the Best Way to Begin Teaching Reading


What is the best way to start teaching your child to read?

Q: Our son was already registered for junior kindergarten before we became aware that you believe in phonic-based reading instruction. He will be 5 soon. The private school we are sending him to teaches reading using what they call an "integrated approach" with phonics and other methods. I'm thinking of buying a phonics-based program that's used by lots of home-schooling parents and working with him on it before school starts. Is he too young for this?

Five years old is not too young to begin learning to read as long as the approach is phonetic. The human brain is wired for reading, but the research has found that the "whole language" approach used by most public schools (or an approach that integrates phonics and whole word recognition) is less than an ideal fit. Some studies have found phonetic instruction can correct reading disabilities, including dyslexia, in some children.

I am an advocate of making sure that a child gets the right start in reading, and phonics has no equal. If the school you're sending your son to uses anything but a phonics-based approach, then I encourage you to buy one of the phonics programs on the market to supplement his classroom instruction.

By the way, I routinely tell parents, "These days, no matter what sort of school you send your child to, you should be prepared to do a certain amount of home-schooling."



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