A reader of my past blog wrote about a first grader who did well in reading. But by second grade she was no longer doing well. Why?
Several reasons could account for this change, but the most likely is that the second grade teacher is not teaching phonics.
- Perhaps the second grade teacher is not aware of research showing that a phonics-based reading program is the most successful.
- Perhaps the second grade teacher attended a teacher training college which did not emphasize any one approach, treating all approaches–phonics, memorizing words, guessing–the same. Research shows phonics is clearly better.
- Perhaps the student switched schools or school districts, and went from a phonics-based curriculum in first grade to a second-grade curriculum which does not focus on phonics.
- Perhaps the child is going through trauma at home which is showing itself in poorer academic achievement.
If your child is in first or second grade and is struggling to read, or is guessing at a large number of words, your child is unlikely to be a strong reader in the future unless you intervene now. What can you do to change this situation?
- Talk to your child’s teacher and find out how she is teaching reading. Ask if she is primarily using a phonics-based approach. If she is, then ask her what else the school can do to help your child do better. Is there a reading specialist who can work with your child? Are there tutors (paid or volunteer) who work with individual students?
- If the teacher is not using a phonics-based approach, you can ask that your child be switched to the classroom of a teacher who is using such an approach. If that is impossible, you can hire a private tutor, or become the tutor of your child. Or if all else fails, you can move your child to a school which does use a phonics-based approach.
Is it that important? Yes. The most necessary academic skill is reading. If a child is a poor reader, she will stumble through school and life. Many well-paying career doors will be closed to her.
Do all that you can to ensure that your youngster learn reading by sounding out letters and by blending the letter sounds together to form words.