Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Phonics Instruction

I was looking over some flyers today from a local college. They're trying to gather students for their Summer Literacy Institute, or what ever it's called. I looked over their offerings to see what the competition was like. Yes, besides my day job as an elementary school teacher, I'm also a reading tutor.

Their program is broken up by grade levels, but they offer phonics in all grades up to third grade. If you look at phonics books, you also see them written for all grade levels up to fifth grade. All of the big educational publishers have their own phonics program. Unfortunately they're all worthless. You should not be teaching phonics in fifth grade. It should be done in Kindergarten or first grade. Then students can use their phonetic knowledge for the rest of their school careers.

The thing about these programs is their written by people who have no understanding of an effective phonics program. They're sold mainly to teachers who have been taught that either phonics doesn't work, or that a "balanced" reading curriculum should include a bit of phonics, but not too much. They don't know what an effective phonics program consists of becuase they've been taught by instructors who also have no understanding of an effective phonics program.

Parents buy these books, because teachers can't steer them in the right direction, so they buy what they see displayed.

There are effective programs out there. See my previous posts about how to teach children to read for more information.

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