Modern Issues With The Science of Reading

Reading is one of the fundamental life skills that everyone has to learn to survive. Those who know how to read don’t realize how hard it is to teach non-readers how to read. Children don’t just suddenly pick up on the skills just from reading to them every day (although that helps a lot).

It takes the skill of a well-trained teacher who knows all about the science of reading and the teaching strategies to come up with lessons that don’t just help them teach well but also facilitate the learning of the students.

The Science of Reading

There is a science to the process of teaching reading, and it includes phonological awareness and phonics. A lot of teachers spend so much time teaching phonics, but they forget about other elements of reading that they should also focus on.

When people say that something is scientific, it includes the methods, approaches, and other recommendations backed by research that impart knowledge and strategies. In the case of reading, it is all about how to improve children’s reading skills.

Aside from teaching phonics and phonological awareness, schools should also devote enough time to teaching oral reading fluency instruction, vocabulary, morphology, and thinking strategies that improve reading comprehension. 

Problems with Teaching

It is not uncommon to encounter reading teachers who struggle with teaching the subject. Over the past years, it has been observed that there’s a lack of precision when talking about teaching phonics and phonological awareness.

Researchers have found that the main problem of teaching reading in the classroom is lack of engagement and not explicitly teaching students how to decode phonics. Reading can be a bland and boring subject, but even so, it has to be taught well to help the students learn.

Parents rightfully demand an increase in phonics instruction, but they do not recognize the other parts of reading science. While parents are within their rights to raise questions about the reading curriculum, they should not dictate what should be taught to their child, especially if they are not experts in the field.

Another problem is that there is a lack of system and uniformity in teaching reading. Teachers often stop at showing spelling patterns, but it is not enough if the end goal is for the students to be able to read and spell independently. Schools spend so much of their resources on building libraries, but those books are of no use if students don’t know how to read them. 

What Teachers Can Do

Some challenges make teaching reading difficult, those can be resolved.  When planning lessons, teachers should have a clear purpose for each lesson, provide activities that where they can have more interaction with students, and make sure to always explain lessons clearly.

During class, the sound-symbol correspondences should be heard well enough so that the students can sound each letter in a word–words that they know, words they don’t know, and nonsense words. Students should be taught how to recognize each letter in a given the word. When teaching phonics—teach the students to decode and spell words, sort words, recognize misspellings, and practice it enough so that the students can become proficient. 

Students will benefit from explicit phonics instruction, so teachers should devote enough time to it. Be thorough and focus on the progress of the students.

Final Thoughts

Teachers should continuously educate themselves about the new ways to teach reading and not be limited to outdated methods and strategies. Treat reading as science and come up with uniform definitions of concepts and a system of teaching them. There needs to be a commitment to improving the content and methods of teaching it if we want to help children become fluent readers.

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