How to Teach Phonics to Your First Grader

How to Teach Phonics to Your First Grader

Phonics is an essential building block of reading skills. It’s also one of the most challenging parts of teaching a first grade. That’s because reading and writing skills develop at different rates in each child. For example, some children learn letter sounds earlier than others. Some take longer to decode words. Some have a harder time following directions. Teach phonics to a child is a challenging, especially for parents who are new to the homeschooling lifestyle. However, with a little preparation, you can make teaching reading skills to your first grader fun and rewarding.


In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to teach your first grader how to read. We’ll also discuss how to teach them how to read phonetically. Once your child has a firm understanding of it, you can work on teaching them how to read phonetically.


Teaching your homeschooled child how to read is no different than teaching any other subject. You just have to make sure you take the time to teach them. Even if they’re in first grade.


Why Teach Phonics to a Homeschooled Child?


tech phonicsThe majority of children learn how to read at a very young age. However, some children learn at a much later age. This can be frustrating for parents and teachers. You might even consider an additional reading intervention. While all of this is certainly understandable, you must remember that reading is a complex skill.


Understanding how your child learns, as well as their current skill level, will help you decide when to introduce phonics to them. You’ll also have a better understanding of how to best teach your child so they can catch up and be on even grounds with their peers.


The advantage of teaching your child phonics at a younger age is that they are more likely to retain what you teach them. Furthermore, it will be easier for your child to “decode” words when they begin to read on their own.


So, why teach your first grader how to read phonics? Let’s discuss.


Help Your First Grader Understand the How


When you start to teach your first grader how to read, you will want to make sure they understand the “how.”. You can do this by explaining to them what reading is and how it helps them become smarter.


Reading is a powerful way for your child to gain knowledge and understand the world around them. Reading, as we all know, is communication. It requires your child to pull from their own experiences as well as the experiences of others.


When reading, your child is decoding written words. This means that they are breaking down the letters into sounds. Once your child can “read” the words, they can use what they’ve learned to make sense of what the words mean.

For example, let’s say your child is reading the word “dog.” They might notice that the “g” in “dog” is similar to the “k” in “kat.” So, your child might make the connection between the “g” in “dog” and “k” in “kitten.”


This is how reading affects your child’s brain. It allows them to build knowledge and store information. It also gives your child something to think about. This will help them stay focused during school hours, as well as improve their attention span.


Teach Your Child the Basics of Phonics


When it comes to teaching your child the basics of phonics, you can’t do it too early. It’s important to have a strong foundation in phonics so your child can better understand how to read.


By teaching your first grader the basics of phonics, you’re helping them break down the code used for reading. This will make it easier for them to decode words when they begin to read on their own.


There are a few ways you can teach your first grader about phonics. Here are some ideas to get you started.


Let’s Begin with the Alphabet: The easiest way to introduce the basics of phonics is to start out with the alphabet. Once your child understands how to write each letter of the alphabet, they can learn how to break down each sound it makes.


Let’s Say the Alphabet Song: Another way to introduce the basics of phonics is to sing the alphabet song. You can sing the alphabet song with your child while they are sitting in their chair or on the floor with a coloring book and a crayon.


Teach Phonics the Right Way


Like most skills, teaching your child how to read phonetically is a process of practice. You’ll need to work at it consistently if you want results.


When you’re teaching your first grader how to read phonetically, it’s important to remember that they don’t understand the meaning behind the words.


You can’t start teaching them phonics by having them understand the meaning behind the words. The meaning will come later. For now, your job is to teach the sounds the letters make.


There are a few ways you can go about teaching your first grader phonics. Here are some ideas to get you started.


Teach Sounds Before Letters


Children learn how to read and write words before they learn how to read letters. You can use this knowledge to your advantage by teaching your child sounds before you teach them letters.


For example, let’s say your 1st grader is learning the “b” sound. You can show your child how to make the sound by saying the letter “b” and clapping your hands together. After showing them how to make the sound, you can work on decoding the word “bicycle.”


Help Your Child Develop decoding skills: Another important step when teaching your child how to read phonetically is to help them develop decoding skills. Decoding is the process of breaking down words into their individual sounds.


For example, you can have your child read the word “cat” out loud and you can break down the letters into sounds. After your child has decoded the letters, you can discuss what the word “cat” sounds like.


Teach the "Sight Word" Strategy


The “Sight-Word” strategy is one of the most effective ways to teach your first grader how to read phonetically. The idea behind the sight word method is that you show your child only one word and give them a cue to help them identify the word.


For example, you can have your child say the word “dog” and then point to the picture of a dog when they say the word. This will help your child associate words with pictures and make it easier for them to read.


Wrapping Up: Teaching Phonics as a homeschooled parent


Now that you know how to teach your first grader phonics, it’s time to put your knowledge to the test. Get ready to launch into a rigorous homeschooling year. Your first grader will be reading at a level much higher than they were last year.

Why Reading Programs Are Necessary In Elementary Schools

Why Reading Programs Are Necessary In Elementary Schools

Reading Programs for Reading Programs
Image Source: Flickr

Reading difficulties are common among elementary school students. Research shows that students are introduced to literacy at a very young age and are reading by the end of the first grade. Reading is a fundamental skill that is necessary to succeed in school. It is different from writing and to master it requires additional practice. This is a process that takes time to develop. Reading programs are necessary to help students develop the skills that are necessary to read and understand. However, reading programs can sometimes be intrusive and disruptive to the classroom. This article explores the pros and cons of reading programs, the types of difficulties, and the most common  programs used in schools.


What are Reading Difficulties?


Reading difficulties are a specific type of learning struggle that is associated with poor reading skills. It can be caused by a variety of factors, both physical and mental. The physical factor include visual, auditory, orthographical, and processing difficulties. On the other hand, mental causes include cognitive and linguistic problems.


Reading difficulties may be caused by problems with decoding, phonetics, spelling, vocabulary, writing, or grammar. Specific learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, are neurological disorders that affect the way information is processed by the brain. Students struggle to learn how to read could have a reading age that is higher than their grade level. This means that they have advanced reading skills when compared to their peers. It can also often result in poor performance in school. Students who have a reading difficulty may be behind in their grade level. They may also struggle to do well in subjects like writing, math, and science.


The Benefits of Reading Programs


These programs are designed to improve reading skills for students who are having difficulty with reading. These programs can be used by students of all ages, from kindergarten to high school. There are different types that are tailored for different grades and learning styles. The common benefits of reading programs include:


- Reading skills are improved through practice and repetition. The programs are designed to help students become better readers. They use a systematic method to help the students become fluent readers. They are often based on a program model where the students practice the same skills again and again.


- Reading skills are tested and assessed. These programs are often used in schools to assess the students’ reading abilities. Reading assessments help the teachers to determine the students’ abilities and identify the areas that need improvement. These assessments can also be used to evaluate the effectiveness of reading programs.


- Reading is made fun. The programs are often used to help students make the act of reading fun. This is a very important skill that can be learned and improved with practice. Reading programs often incorporate games, puzzles, and activities to make the process interesting and entertaining.


- Reading skills are transferred to other subjects. Reading is the foundation of knowledge. They can be used to improve other subjects like writing, math, science, and engineering. The programs are designed to help students transfer their reading skills to these subjects.


Reading Programs: How to use them


Reading programs are often used in schools for remedial reading or for students who are struggling to read. These programs can also be used as an extra support for struggling students. But they are not the same as online tutors or online reading tutors. Reading programs are often delivered in-class by a teacher as they are only used by the teacher during class, often delivered during reading or language arts class. Reading programs are provided by the teacher as a whole class activity. These programs are used to help the whole class improve their reading and writing skills as well as improve many different types of reading difficulties, including:


- Visual, auditory, orthographical, and phonological difficulties.

- Dyslexia.

- Attention dysfunctions.

- Fluency problems.

Vocabulary difficulties.


Why Reading Programs are helpful for Elementary Students


Elementary school students face many challenges in their learning. These challenges can be overwhelming for students who are new to the school system. Reading programs can help students with these challenges by providing extra support to these students, as they face many challenges in their learning. These challenges can be overwhelming for students who are new to the school system. Reading programs can help students with these challenges by providing extra support to these students. Students who are new to school and have a lot to catch up with may feel dazed in their new environment. These programs can aid these students as they provide a structured approach to learning, giving them structure and organization. They can also allow them focus on their studies by providing structure and organization. Reading programs can also help students socialize with other students while they are in the program, strengthening their friendship bonds.




Reading programs can be a helpful tool in the classroom. These programs can help students improve their reading skills, which in turn allows students to succeed in school. They can also be used for a wide range of reading difficulties, including dyslexia, visual, auditory, orthographical, and phonological difficulties. Reading programs should be used in conjunction with regular classroom instruction.

The Best Methods for Teaching Reading in Kindergarten

The Best Methods for Teaching Reading in Kindergarten

Best Methods for Teaching Reading in Kindergarten
Image Source: Unsplash

Reading is one of the most important skills children need to learn in school. Reading gives them knowledge about the world and helps them learn about subjects such as science and history. It also helps them with their future studies and career options. As such, teaching how to read is one of the most important subjects in the earlier grades. In fact, it’s one of the first subjects children learn. Reading is foundational, and it’s one of the first skills children begin learning. In order to teach how to read, you must make sure your students have the tools they need. Different methods can be used to help children become better readers. This article explores the best methods for teaching reading in kindergarten.


Teach Phonics


Phonics is one of the best methods for teaching in kindergarten. Even if a child learns to read words by sight, they still need to know how to use phonics. Phonics teaches children about how words are pronounced and what the word’s letters sound like. Even if children learn to decode words by sight, they still need to know how to use phonics, which teach them about how words are pronounced and what the words’ letters sound like. For example, “K-I-T” is pronounced as “kit,” while “C-A-T” is pronounced as “cat.” After they learn these rules, children can figure out which letter corresponds with each sound, so they can read any word correctly.


Help Kindergarten students Build Their Vocabulary


One of the best ways to teach reading is by helping children build their own vocabulary. A large vocabulary leads to a better comprehension and proficiency in all language arts skills—not just reading, but also writing and spelling. Children need to know at least 5,000 words before they start kindergarten, experts say. It’s important for kindergarten teachers to focus on teaching their students new words and expanding their vocabulary. This can be done through games that use word cards or through word work activities. In this way, children will learn new words with meaning and context as they play these games or complete these activities.


Teach Sentence Repetition


One way to teach children how to read is by using sentence repetition. With this method, children repeat sentences as they are read. The sentences should be short and simple at first. As students get better at repeating the sentences, the sentences can get more complex. This may take a little practice on their part but it is worth it in the long-run. In order to teach reading, you need to know what methods work best for your students. Some people might find sentence repetition more helpful than others so you’ll want to experiment with different methods until you find one that works for your class.


Give Fluent Reading Practice


The fluency of a reader depends on how quickly, smoothly, and accurately they read. The more fluent the reading is, the easier it will be for the student to comprehend what they are reading. Fluent readers can use context clues to figure out unfamiliar words and comprehend what they are reading without having to rely on their teacher or parent. One of the best methods for teaching how to read in kindergarten is giving your students fluent reading practice. Letting them read books out loud to you while you follow along with the text helps develop this ability. This type of fluent reading practice also allows them to get feedback on their pronunciation, which can help them improve as a reader. For example, telling your students when they mispronounce a word, or when they don't read fluently enough can be very helpful in improving their skills.


Have Daily Reading Rituals


The biggest thing you can do to help your students become better readers is have reading rituals in your classroom. Reading to students is one of the best methods to teach them how to read. As such, it should be a daily ritual at school and home. In order to have a successful reading ritual, you must make sure that the book or story is appropriate for the age group and skill level of the reader. For kindergarteners, books with simple sentences are typically best.




Reading is a critical skill. The best methods for teaching reading in kindergarten are to help the students build their vocabulary, teach sentence repetition, give fluent reading practice and have daily reading rituals. These methods will help them to read better, because with every new word they learn, students are also learning new sounds and building their fluency. This is why it is important to teach these methods to kindergarten students.

Fast Phonics Games for Kids to Boost Their Reading Skills

Fast Phonics Games for Kids to Boost Their Reading Skills

Reading can be a difficult skill to master. From decoding new words to decoding passages, reading requires a lot of practice. Fortunately, there are games that can help kids practice their reading skills and build their confidence. These games range from reading comprehension games to phonics games that focus on reading fluency.


For kids who are having a hard time reading, playing these games can be a fun way to practice their skills and improve their reading comprehension. Here is a list of the best fast phonics games for kids to help them practice their reading and boost their confidence.


Sight Words Scramble


Sight words are the building blocks of reading. This fun sight words scramble game helps kids to practice recognizing and reading words in sequence. The first player to guessed all of the sight words in the scrambled sentences wins.


Kids will love this word scramble game because it’s fast-paced and engaging. If your child is having a difficult time with reading, this game can also be helpful in building their confidence as they try to tackle more advanced reading skills. In each turn of the game, one player reads a scrambled sentence. The other players try to guess the words. If a player gets a word correct, they can steal a letter from the word on the board and replace it with one of their own. If the word is guessed incorrectly, the player with the word can take a letter from the word on the board and replace it with one of their own.


Phonics Bingo


Bingo is a fun game that can be used for many different purposes. In this phonics bingo game, kids will practice recognizing and placing specific sounds in syllables. This bingo game is best for kids who are just learning how to read or are having a hard time with sounding out words. To play, each card has a picture of a different animal on it. In each column of the card, there are various sounds that the animal makes. The goal is to mark off the spaces on the bingo card that have the sounds that the animal makes. As players mark off cards, they will earn points. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.


Reading Comprehension Games


Reading comprehension games are perfect for kids who are having a hard time understanding what they read. These games help improve a kid’s ability to comprehend what they read by using visual and auditory cues. These games can also be used to help kids stay focused when reading.


Here are a few examples of reading comprehension games:


Color-Word Games


These games will help your child stay focused while reading. The goal of these games is for the child to find the specific color that is mentioned in the word. To play, have the child read the word out loud. Then, have them draw a picture of the word. After the picture is complete, have them name the color that was mentioned in the word. Once the color is named, have them find the corresponding card and place it in the correct pile.


Phonics Games


These games will help your child practice their reading skills while having fun. There are many different types of phonics games out there, so it can be hard to know which ones to use. To help your child get started, here are a few basic phonics games that you can start with:


Find the Sound in This: This is a great early literacy game for kids. It helps build a child’s confidence as they practice recognizing letters and sounds.


Blind Man’s Bluff: In this game, one player is the “Bluffers,” and the other players are the “Bluffees.” The Bluffers start by saying a word out loud, and then the Bluffees have to guess what the word is using only their ears. This is another great game for building confidence.


Matching Game: This game is great for developing a child’s visual memory.


Word Searcher: This is a “find that” literacy game. It can help with reading comprehension by verbally requesting that a child find a specific word in a book.


Mosaic: This is a great game for developing a child’s concentration and patience.


Phonics Games


These games will help your child build their confidence while improving their reading skills.


Guess the Word:  This is a fun game where the objective is for the first person to guess the word to win. The player will say the first word that comes to mind when they hear the word that is being guessed. This can be a difficult game to play if words are a challenge for your child, but it is a great way to build confidence as they try to tackle more difficult reading situations.


Word Wall: This game is similar to pin the tail on the donkey. The only difference is that in this game your child will be placing words on a word wall. This is a great way to practice reading comprehension and also build confidence by achieving success.


Fluency Games


These games will help your child practice reading out loud and sounding out words.


Story Telling. This is a great way to build confidence while having fun. Have your child practice telling you stories while you try to be the audience. This is also a good way to work on your child’s storytelling skills.


Listen and Spell: In this game, you will be competing against your own voice. You will read a word out loud and then your job is to try and spell the word that you just read as fast as you can. This game is best played with a friend or two. Try listening to different speeds and tone of voices to practice reading out loud and sounding out words.


Reading Races: This is another fun way to practice sounding out words. The game is based on a “reading race,” and the last player who can’t pronounce the word loses. This is another good way to work on your child’s patience and they will learn to love losing.


Summing Up


Reading is a fundamental part of a child’s education, and it can be a difficult skill to master. Fortunately, there are many games that can help kids practice their reading and build their confidence. In this article you’ve been provided with a list of the best fast phonics games for kids to help them practice their reading and build their confidence.

Science of Reading for English-Language Learners: Where Are We Today?

Science of Reading for English-Language Learners: Where Are We Today?

Time to pick some apples: this week, we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week 2022. In honor of their efforts, we’re highlighting the commitment of teachers to a specific group of young readers: students who are learning English as a second language. Teachers face the dual challenge of crafting reading lessons that incorporate the science of reading and the unique needs of English-Language Learners students (ELLs), also called English Learners/ Emergent Bilingual (EL/EB) students. Today, we question whether - and how - the science of reading can work for ELLs and consider how schools and educators can best support them.

Picture 1

Science of Reading for ELL Students


As of 2022, at least 17 states now encode the science of reading into law. While this is a positive step toward reading success for all students, many of these laws fail to address how revised literacy curricula will support ELL students. Partially in response to these legislative changes, the National Committee for Effective Literacy (NCEL) was formed in February 2022 to answer a pressing question: where do English learners need more tailored reading support relative to native English speakers?


A foundational 2006 report by the National Reading Panel indicated that the five essential components of reading - phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension - were useful for a majority of students and had “clear benefits” for ELL students. Relative to native English speakers, ELLs are likely to need more opportunities to speak English, listen to other English speakers, and practice their vocabulary and syntax. Language researchers emphasize the need to discuss the meanings of words with all students, but especially those learning English. English is a notoriously tricky language, and words with multiple meanings - “run,” “park,” “date,” and “play,” just to name a few - will need to be reviewed frequently with ELL students in both reading and speaking formats.

Picture 2

Reading Strategies and Resources for ELL Students


In an idealized classroom, early reading instruction would combine the five essential components of reading with additional support from trained bilingual intervention teachers. In consideration of budget and staff constraints, however, this scenario is not possible in many elementary classrooms. Despite the barriers faced by both students and educators, our three takeaways highlight the advocacy, reading materials, and overall mindset that teachers can adopt to provide high-quality reading instruction to EL/EB students.


  1. Support dual-language programs. Research suggests that teaching students to read in their first language can actually enhance their English reading skills and their sociocultural development. In terms of their accessibility and curricula, many dual-language programs are still in their infancy; nevertheless, the rise of bilingual programs creates more opportunity for students to thrive as readers and writers in their native, non-English language(s).
  2. Recognize that literacy is not just about phonics. Holistically, reading and writing empower students to express themselves and understand their environments and peers more deeply. As they learn to express themselves and understand others through creative collaboration and conversation, a student’s world can expand through the acquisition of vocabulary and overall confidence.
  3. The Internet is a resource. While your school may not offer or be a part of a dual-language program, this does not mean that EL/EB students are left behind. The digital NCEL publication dives deep into effective literacy education for English Learners. NCEL and other online ELL resources offer strategies to support ELLs in the mainstream classroom, with a continual emphasis on comprehension: both on the page and in verbal communication with peers and teachers.
Picture 3

To our reading teachers: we wish you a happy Teacher Appreciation Week 2022, and another year of guiding all students - English learners included! - to reach their reading goals.

From Reading to Writing: 2 Ways to Support Young Writers At-Home

From Reading to Writing: 2 Ways to Support Young Writers At-Home

At Reading Teacher, we emphasize the foundational literacy skills that will help students become lifelong readers. Although we might not think about our students becoming lifelong writers, the ability to write is an equally important and challenging skill to develop. From the first moment they pick up a book, teachers and parents can honor the connection between reading and writing and support a child toward becoming a thoughtful, effective writer.


But what does early writing support look like? Like reading, writing skills develop early and gradually: a child’s writing typically starts with scribbling and progresses to more letter-like shapes and random strings of letters. As a parent, you may worry that your child is not progressing quickly enough in the writing department; but when we consult the science of early literacy, it’s completely normal for young writers to produce incomprehensible scribbles for a period of time.


Early Writing Activity #1: Time to Write!


You can support a child’s early writing - and hopefully get them moving toward more legible sentences - by encouraging writing time outside of the classroom, focusing on simple words such as the child’s name, Mom, Dad, love, or dog. Make writing extra fun by using scented markers, fat pencils to assist with fine motor control, and patterned or colorful paper. In tandem with a structured literacy classroom, your at-home efforts can have a significant impact on your child’s reading and writing progress at school.


Early Writing Activity #2: Dictation


In addition to carving out designated writing time with your child, you can support their early writing skills by writing down what they say. Simple dictation activities help to model the skill of writing in a range of contexts and demonstrate the relationship between spoken and written words. Around bedtime or during a meal, take a few minutes to chat with your child and record their favorite part of a book, their most recent dinner, or a playdate with a friend. As your child watches you write, they’ll become aware of the more subtle conventions of writing like capitalization, word spacing, and punctuation. In addition to supporting a child’s early literacy, this is also an opportunity for parents and caregivers to refresh their communication skills - and clean up their handwriting!

Picture 2

These 2 simple writing activities can go a long way in supporting early writers. Writing is an essential skill for children to develop, and the science of reading is beginning to place a stronger emphasis on the duality of reading and writing. Strong writers typically have strategic reading skills, literacy knowledge, vocabulary, and background knowledge of various facts and concepts: all of which can be taught explicitly through early writing instruction. While we entrust the more in-depth science of reading to the researchers and educators, parents can adopt these 2 simple at-home strategies to enhance their child’s writing ability and confidence.


  • The science of reading demonstrates a strong relationship between early reading and writing skills.
  • Parents and caregivers can support a child’s early interest in writing by (1) setting aside designated time for “fun writing” at home and (2) using dictation activities to illustrate the connection between spoken and written words.

A Complete Guide on How Phonics Helps Kids Learn to Read

A Complete Guide on How Phonics Helps Kids Learn to Read

Teaching phonics is one of the most important steps in the process in which children learn how to read. Phonics teaches kids how to pronounce, sound out, and combine the sounds of language.


Children need to learn this in order to be able to read in front of others and spell new words on their own. Phonics is the method of teaching children how to read by focusing on sounds.


Here are a few tips for parents or teachers that want to teach phonics:


-Find resources that you can use at home or at school.


-Practice, practice practice.


-Read books together as a family.


In this article you will learn about how phonics can help your child to become a better reader.

What Is Phonics?


Phonics is the study of the sounds that make up words. Phonics teaches kids how to pronounce, sound out, and blend the sounds of language.


Learning phonics will help the children to read out loud in from of other people, as well as allow them to spell new words by themselves. An example would be "c-a-t” spells out “cat."

Why Should Kids Learn Phonics?


reading groupsThe importance of teaching phonics to children is often overlooked, but it is very important as it helps them learn to read. By teaching them phonics, kids will learn how to pronounce, sound out, and blend the sounds of language. This will let them read out loud in public and spell out new words on their own.


Here are a few tips for parents or teachers that want to teach phonics:


-Find resources you can use at home or at school.


-Talk about how well students are doing with reading.


-Read books together as a family.

How To Teach Phonics -  Learn to Read


Teaching phonics is one of the most important steps in teaching children to read.


So how do you teach phonics?


Here are a few tips for parents or teachers that want to teach phonics:


Find resources you can use at home or at school, talk about how well students are doing with reading, and read books together as a family.

Benefits of Teaching Phonics to Kids


-Read books together as a family. Teaching phonics is one of the most important steps in teaching children to read.


Children need to learn this in order to be able to read in front of others and spell new words on their own.


There are a few benefits parents and teachers should know about when they teach children how to read using phonics:


-Phonics can help kids build confidence when reading.


-It helps them develop an understanding of language that they may not be getting from other curriculums.


-Teaching phonics will help children with vocabulary, spelling, writing, and more.


-Some research suggests that teaching phonics with sight words can lead to greater success.

Resources for Elementary Teachers


-Targets vocabulary and reading comprehension.


-Includes lesson plans for teaching different phonics skills.


-Provides reading lessons that are aligned with the Common Core Standards.


-Includes activities to help students learn new concepts while they have fun One of the first things parents and teachers should do is find resources they can use to help teach phonics. There are many different resources that you can use to teach children, such as letters, games, books and more. Resources are a great way to teach kids how to read because they will be able to get more practice with learning how to sound out words. A good resource for teaching children how to sound out words is a book called Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. This book teaches kids about the alphabet and how each letter has its own sound.

Read Together With Them


Your child will need help reading on their own. Find a book that you want to read as a family and then work with them to read it.


It's important for kids to pick up words from context and make connections with the world. This is something that you can do when you're reading together. The most important thing you can do is read.


By reading together with your child, they will learn to associate words with sounds, as well as how to read and comprehend what they are reading.


This helps children know what the letters in words sound like and should be able to tell which position has a letter in a word.


Having them read aloud also helps to build their confidence and self-esteem.



Reading is an important skill for children to learn. Phonics helps children learn to read by understanding how sounds map to letters and how letters map to words. Teaching phonics is an important step to help children learn how to read.

The “P-Word”: The Role of Phonics in Today’s Reading Wars

The “P-Word”: The Role of Phonics in Today’s Reading Wars

It’s 2022, and the so-called “reading war” between proponents of phonics and advocates of the whole-language approach rages on. Despite phonics being one of the best-evidenced elements of the science of reading, research on phonics in early literacy has sparked a tide of backlash in recent months. This week, we take the pulse on the current status of the reading wars, gathering insights from both professional educators and researchers.

reading education

Phonics vs. Whole Language

The wider public debate about reading education tends to adopt an “either/or” stance between phonics or some other approach; yet researchers argue that in most cases, a mixture of different approaches - still with a strong emphasis on phonics - is ideal for reading education. In January, a research paper from the UCL Institute of Education (IoE) attempted to provide nuance to the reading wars: while phonics remains an essential component of early reading, the researchers argue that there are many other factors that shape literacy. They questioned the prominence of systematic synthetic phonics (SSP) in England, a widespread early reading program in the UK that uses highly regimented screening tools to teach phonics. Ultimately, the researchers assert that in 2022, “nobody is seriously advocating for whole language alone,” underwriting the need for a more nuanced approach to early reading.


While teachers largely believe in the power of phonics, they’re less likely to advocate for the strict and regimented SSP approach. Says one teacher: "I think, broadly, all teachers understand that SSP is a way into early reading and has an important role to play but, in my experience (and I know there is fierce opposition to this), the use of SSP as the foremost strategy is what they are opposed to," she says. The same teacher also noted the unpopularity of government-imposed “reading schemes” and phonics screenings in all elementary classrooms. Such uniformity in early reading curricula is especially problematic for students with learning disabilities and/or those who speak English as a second language: because these students tend to naturally rely more on context, SSP alone may not meet their needs.

Role of Phonics

Says Rastle, one of the contributors to a foundational 2018 research paper on the reading wars: the best way to support all early readers is to “move the conversation on.” This conversation is continually getting pulled back to phonics, which we already recognize as an essential part of literacy based on the science of reading. We also recognize that reading is a make-or-break skill that influences other subjects and important life milestones. Instead, Rastle encourages educators to focus on the hard stuff: reading comprehension, fluency, and encouraging kids to explore and enjoy independent reading.


How do we move the conversation forward?


  1. Recognize the nuance of the reading war, and reframe it as an ongoing conversation between the people most passionate about teaching reading.
  2. Avoid more prescriptive policies for teaching reading that reduce teacher autonomy, such as the strict phonics screening check in the UK.
  3. Enhance teachers’ understanding of science behind early literacy curricula with more training on the science of reading


As reading teachers, it’s essential to focus on the common ground, remembering that people invested in this conversation largely have students’ best interests in mind. Phonics is just the beginning of a student’s lifelong commitment to reading, discovering, and critically engaging with the world around them.

Reading Wars


  • Although the effectiveness of phonics is largely supported by the science of reading, educational leaders continue to debate how, and to what extent, phonics should be used in early literacy classrooms.
  • The so-called “reading wars” tend to shift focus away from the most important components of lifelong literacy: reading comprehension, fluency, reading for pleasure, and providing adequate support for English Language Learners and students with learning disabilities.
  • To establish common ground, researchers call upon educators and legislators to recognize the nuance of this ongoing debate, avoid prescriptive literacy curricula, and prioritize teacher training on the science of reading.

National Library Week 2022: A Gentle Reminder to Visit Your Local Library

National Library Week 2022: A Gentle Reminder to Visit Your Local Library

When was the last time you visited your local library? These community gems are crucial for families and educators, particularly when schools lack the resources to provide a broader range of reading material and culturally responsive books. From April 3-9, 2022, schools and communities across the U.S. recognized National Library Week: a weeklong celebration of the educational and social role of libraries. This week, we’re outlining 4 ways you can celebrate your local library all year long.


1. Visit your local library!

All too often, we forget that the library is just around the corner. As part of National LIbrary Week, local libraries across the U.S. marketed themselves as free resources for connecting with new technology, media, community programs, and classes: all of this, in addition to free books! Well-stocked school and public libraries - and qualified librarians - are essential to dispersing more information about the science of reading, while giving students and families safe spaces to connect with their communities and cultivate a love for reading.


2. #UniteAgainstBookBans

At the beginning of National Library Week 2022, the State of America’s Libraries Report highlighted the Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2021. In response to the report, the (ALA) initiated a national campaign to Unite Against Book Bans, noting that there were 729 attempted book bans in 2021. The ALA believes that book bans harm communities by preventing students from accessing critical information about themselves and the world around them. If you’re a concerned parent, teacher, or simply an avid reader, you can sign up to join the campaign against book bans - and, in turn, the campaign for widespread access to socially impactful and relevant literature.

3. Promote and follow your local library on social media.

As more states shift toward reading curricula and textbooks rooted in the science of reading, libraries play an essential role in sharing science-based reading strategies with more families and teachers. Follow your local library on social media so you don’t miss out on any of their diverse offerings and trainings for community members and educators. To stay up to date, consider following the ALA on Twitter @ALALibrary, Facebook @AmericanLibraryAssociation, and on Instagram @americanlibraryassociation.


4. Invest in public and school libraries.

Many reading teachers recognize the immediate need to better fund both school and public libraries, particularly as communities reallocate educational funds in response to COVID-19. Nonprofits such as EveryLibrary are working to fill the gap between state funding and the immediate literary needs of reading students and teachers. In addition to signing relevant petitions and donating to the ALA, you can support healthy libraries by urging your elected officials to #FundLibraries for Fiscal Year 2023.


Our libraries need our support to continue transforming lives and strengthening our communities. At Reading Teacher, we view National Library Week as a yearlong celebration: one that recognizes our collective effort to share the science and social impact of reading with more teachers, families, and students.



  • The ALA recently celebrated National Library Week, an annual recognition of the work of libraries, librarians, and library workers.
  • Based on ALA suggestions, we propose 4 key ways to better support libraries:
    • Visit more frequently!
    • Unite against book bans
    • Engage with your library on social media
    • Advocate for better funding of public and school libraries

Spring into Reading: The 3 Key Elements of Reading Comprehension

Spring into Reading: The 3 Key Elements of Reading Comprehension

As schools across the U.S. transition into spring break, it’s a reflective time for both teachers and parents of early readers. From New Hampshire to North Carolina, several states are proposing curriculum changes and teacher training to support the youngest generation of readers. While school districts continue to invest in gradual - but necessary - systemic change, we’re taking time to reflect on the three fundamentals of reading comprehension, outlined by academic officer Dr. Gene Kerns.

  1. Decoding

If you’re an elementary teacher, it’s highly likely that you’ve encountered - and even used - the Meaning, Structure, Visual (MSV) approach, also known as the three-cueing system. MSV encourages students to draw meaning from context or pictures, syntax, and visual information, such as images on the page or parts of words. While many teacher training programs champion the effectiveness of MSV, the practice distracts students from actually decoding the words in front of them. After a student has learned to decode, they’ll be able to recognize more words by sight and associate them with sound and meaning: a phenomenon known as orthographic mapping. To improve students’ decoding abilities, it is essential for states to invest in teacher education that emphasizes the importance of explicit and systematic phonics instruction. Recent pushes in Oregon, North Carolina, and New Hampshire reflect a growing awareness of the need for upfront investment in teacher training to support the essential skill of decoding.

  1. Vocabulary:

Vocabulary is a key marker of reading fluency, which is supported by exposure to as many words as frequently as possible. Using and hearing these words in conversation helps students build their orthographic maps and recognize the sounds of certain words - sometimes even before they’re taught how to read them. In addition to engaging in wide-ranging conversations, students can enhance their vocabulary through wide and varied reading. Keep in mind: teachers can only directly teach students an estimated 400 words per year, so it’s crucial for students to acquire the decoding skills that will empower them to read for pleasure - and, in turn, develop vibrant vocabularies.


  1. Knowledge:

Instead of an “achievement gap,” Kerns encourages us to reframe this common term as a knowledge gap. Educators and researchers recognize the correlation between reading ability and socioeconomic status: affluent students often have more opportunities to travel and/or access to a wider range of subjects and vocabulary. With this understanding, educators can honor the relationship between knowledge and literacy by introducing students to a broad range of content from an early age. By encouraging students to read and think about an array of complex social issues, high-quality Social Studies instruction is just as - or perhaps even more important - than English Language Arts.


The quest for knowledge continues long after 3rd grade: a make-or-break year when students are declared at, above, or below grade level reading benchmarks. Data suggest that less time is invested in reading proficiency in older grades: in the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress report, only 37% of high school seniors were proficient or advanced in reading. Measures for fourth graders were similar, with 35% of students performing below the basic reading level. While this report only provides a snapshot of a national reading problem, it suggests that students make minimal reading progress after the third grade. To combat this trend, middle, and high school teachers can promote class conversations and assign readings that continually sharpen older students’ decoding skills and expand both their vocabulary and knowledge.



  • Reading comprehension can be broken down into three key elements: decoding, vocabulary, and knowledge.
  • Teachers can improve students’ reading comprehension by emphasizing decoding over MSV, exposing students to a broad range of literature and subjects, and prioritizing reading skills even after the foundational K-3 years.
  • As schools make more gradual changes to teacher training and curricula grounded in the science of reading, teachers can take action now by focusing on these three dimensions of reading comprehension.