There has been a strong debate in France on the teaching of phonics ("méthode syllabique") versus whole language ("méthode globale"). After the 1990s, supporters of the later started defending a so-called "mixed method" in which approaches from both methods are used. France is home to some of the most influential researchers in psycho-pedagogy, cognitive sciences and neurosciences, such as Stanislas Dehaene and Michel Fayol. These researchers have studied the problem from the perspective of their sciences and put their heavy scientific weight on the side of phonics.
The National Research Council re-examined the question of how best to teach reading to children (among other questions in education) and in 1998 published the results in the Prevention of Reading Difficulties in Young Children. The National Research Council's findings largely matched those of Adams. They concluded that phonics is a very effective way to teach children to read at the word level, more effective than what is known as the "embedded phonics" approach of whole language (where phonics was taught opportunistically in the context of literature). They found that phonics instruction must be systematic (following a sequence of increasingly challenging phonics patterns) and explicit (teaching students precisely how the patterns worked, e.g., "this is b, it stands for the /b/ sound").
While most teachers and educational decision-makers recognize this, there may be a tendency in some classrooms, particularly in 1st grade, to allow phonics to become the dominant component, not only in the time devoted to it, but also in the significance attached. It is important not to judge children's reading competence solely on the basis of their phonics skills and not to devalue their interest in books because they cannot decode with complete accuracy. It is also critical for teachers to understand that systematic phonics instruction can be provided in an entertaining, vibrant, and creative manner.
You can teach phonics in many different ways. You can use word or picture cards, magnetic letters, letter tiles, games, or even more traditional methods. However, if you want phonics instruction to be effective, you need to know the content (e.g., consonants, short vowels, digraphs) that you are teaching and the order in which children typically learn, and thus that you will teach, that content. We call this a scope and sequence.8 Across decades, evidence has accumulated to suggest that systematic phonics instruction with a scope and sequence will produce better outcomes than instruction that does not follow a scope and sequence.9
4. See, for example, Heidi Anne E. Mesmer, Letter Lessons and First Words (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, forthcoming); Donald R. Bear et al., Words Their Way: Word Study for Phonics, Vocabulary, and Spelling Instruction (New York: Pearson, 2015); and Sharon Walpole and Michael C. McKenna, How to Plan Differentiated Reading Instruction (New York: Guilford Press, 2017).
As children become readers, they need to understand and use the relationship between letters and sounds to read words. Phonics requires knowledge of letter recognition, sound recognition, and their associations. This means that children must recognize letters in words, and then produce their corresponding sounds to read words. Fortunately, there are fun activities that you can do with your child to promote phonics!
Phonemic awareness involves the understanding of the relationship between sounds and words. It explains how words are made of sounds that can be used, like reusable building blocks, to construct words (h + at = hat, f + at = fat, etc). Phonics goes one step further by connecting those sounds to written symbols. It involves learning how letters or letter groups represent unique sounds, and how those sounds are blended to form a word.
Teachers should be able to assess the needs of the individual students and tailor instruction to meet specific needs. However, it is more common for phonics programs to present a fixed sequence of lessons scheduled from the beginning to the end of the school year. In light of this, teachers need to be flexible in their phonics instruction in order to adapt it to individual student needs.
Here, you will find free phonics worksheets to assist in learning phonics rules for reading. These free worksheets are printable and designed to accommodate any lesson plan for reading that includes phonics. Conveniently organized by the skills covered, these worksheets come with answer keys. You may print the worksheets from either PDF or JPEG versions and provide them to your children or students.
Recently, the National Reading Panel, composed of experts in the field of literacy, was asked by the United States Congress to examine the research on the teaching of reading. A subgroup of the National Reading Panel reviewed 38 studies to determine what the research says about the teaching of phonics. To ensure the soundness of its findings, the National Reading Panel chose to review only studies that met rigorous criteria for research studies.
Teach letter names before teaching the sounds of the letters. It is easier for students to learn the sounds for those letters that contain their sound in the initial position in their names (b,d,j,k,p,t,v,z), followed by those letters whose sounds are embedded within the letter’s name (f,l,m,n,r,s,x), leaving for last those letters whose sounds are not found in the letter’s name (h, w, y).
Time4Learning’s reading program includes phonetic-based lessons, helping children to acquire blending skills, to deconstruct sounds, and to approach the pronunciation of unfamiliar words. In addition as a literature-based feature, children are provided vocabulary, spelling, reading comprehension and writing components. The strategic combination is a successful tool in giving children the opportunity to explore and identify all facets of reading.
The executive summary states, "The evidence is clear ... that direct systematic instruction in phonics during the early years of schooling is an essential foundation for teaching children to read. Findings from the research evidence indicate that all students learn best when teachers adopt an integrated approach to reading that explicitly teaches phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary knowledge and comprehension." The Inquiry Committee also states that the apparent dichotomy between phonics and the whole-Language approach to teaching "is false". However, it goes on to say "It was clear, however, that systematic phonics instruction is critical if children are to be taught to read well, whether or not they experience reading difficulties."
When students log in, they choose a subject, select a chapter, pick a lesson and complete the activities. A bright green arrow tells them where they left off, and completed work is clearly labeled with a check-mark or a gold star. Visual and auditory prompts guide students through the lessons making them easy for young learners to follow, and an online playground (controlled by parents) rewards and motivates them to finish their lessons.
We often observe phonics instruction that has some strengths but also some gaps. Effective phonics instruction is multifaceted. You’ve likely already heard about the need for explicit instruction. Explicit instruction is direct, precise, and unambiguous (e.g., telling children what sound the letters sh represent together, rather than making the connection indirectly or asking them to figure it out themselves). You probably also realize the need to apply general learning principles (e.g., specific feedback). Some other facets that must be present are:
In 1997, Congress asked the Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the National Institutes of Health, in consultation with the Secretary of Education, to convene a national panel to assess the effectiveness of different approaches used to teach children to read. The National Reading Panel examined quantitative research studies on many areas of reading instruction, including phonics and whole language. The resulting report Teaching Children to Read: An Evidence-based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on Reading and its Implications for Reading Instruction was published in 2000 and provides a comprehensive review of what is known about best practices in reading instruction in the U.S. The panel reported that several reading skills are critical to becoming good readers: phonemic awareness, phonics for word identification, fluency, vocabulary and text comprehension. With regard to phonics, their meta-analysis of hundreds of studies confirmed the findings of the National Research Council: teaching phonics (and related phonics skills, such as phonemic awareness) is a more effective way to teach children early reading skills than is embedded phonics or no phonics instruction. The panel found that phonics instruction is an effective method of teaching reading for students from kindergarten through 6th grade, and for all children who are having difficulty learning to read. They also found that phonics instruction benefits all ages in learning to spell. They also reported that teachers need more education about effective reading instruction, both pre-service and in-service.