Are you trying to figure out the best way to teach your child how to read? In this piece, you are going to find the information you need. Fortunately, enough research has been conducted on the matter, and I am going to share with you a well-thought-out solution.
The National Reading Panel has a clear stance on this. They published a comprehensive report called “TEACHING CHILDREN TO READ: An Evidence-Based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on Reading and Its Implications for Reading Instruction.” In this report, the NPR states that “teaching children to manipulate phonemes in words was highly effective under various teaching conditions with a variety of learners across a range of grade and age levels. Teaching phonemic awareness to children significantly improves their reading more than instruction that lacks any attention to Phonemic Awareness.”
What is Phonemic Awareness
What we understand as laymen is that phonemic awareness is incredibly important. But what is it? Phonemic awareness is the child’s ability to identify and manipulate individual phonemes (sounds) in the words he/she hears.
And since we are discussing awareness, you should also know about phonological awareness, which is equally essential in a child’s ability to read. Phonologic knowledge is when a kid can identify and manipulate the spoken parts of a word. However, phonological awareness has levels of skills, from the most basic to the most complex, unlike phonemic awareness. First of all, there are syllables, then there’s onset-rime, and lastly, phonemes (sounds). So, as you can see, the two types of awareness are connected.
Reading Abilities Can Be Predicted
The National Reading Panel chose to review phonemic awareness instruction because research shows that together with letter knowledge, it can predict a child’s ability to learn how to read in the first two years of school. Plus, studies have shown that phonemic awareness instructions are essential in helping children to develop excellent reading skills.
One study was conducted in Austria on children aged 6 and 7 who could not read in the first year of school. According to observations, they were not able to give a single correct answer in their test, which consisted of a simple vowel substitution exercise.
However, children who were instructed on phonemic awareness had better results on the same test. They all got a near perfect score. This is the conclusion of the study “There was a specific predictive relationship between initial phonemic awareness differences and success in learning to read and spell.”
Another aspect that was brought to light by the same study suggests that the child’s IQ cannot predict how well he/she can read and spell by the end of the first grade. It is all related to phonemic awareness.
Children who are instructed on phonemic awareness when they start the first grade have higher reading and spelling abilities by the time they end the first grade, as opposed to children with low phonemic awareness. The latter category had a hard time learning how to read and spell.
In the report I mentioned at the beginning of this article, the NPR also stated that the benefits of phonemic awareness are not limited to the training period. While they have a positive effect on children’s ability to read, that is not enough.
Phonemic awareness indeed provides a knowledge base of the alphabetical language. However, the NPR observation proved that phonics instructions have a significant beneficial impact on students from kindergarten through the sixth grade. On top of that, it’s of incredible help for children who have a tough time learning how to read.
But where does phonics come in? Apparently, if you provide your child with phonicsand phonemic awareness instructions, he/she will read, decode, and spell better. Not to mention that the child will have an easier time when trying to comprehend a text.
There are many methods a parent can use to teach their child how to read, phonemic and phonic awareness must be among the best. With parent’s help, children as young as two years old can learn how to read. As long as your child can speak, reading should be on the table as well.