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Do you know what kind of reading instruction is being taught at your child's school?

Updated: Apr 30

As parents, we assume the school is teaching our kids the most effective reading instruction which supports their developmental stages in phonological awareness, reading, and spelling skills.

During the last three decades, there has been much debate regarding what was the best approach to teach reading. These so-called "reading wars" in education existed between whole-language, phonics, and now balanced literacy instruction.

In between, there was another approach reserved for students who were identified with a reading disability called the Orton-Gillingham method. The Orton Gillingham method is followed by evidence and research behind the Science of Reading. The International Dyslexia Association adopted the umbrella term of Structured Literacy. Structured Literacy has been found to be beneficial for all students and crucial for students who struggle with reading.

What is the difference between whole-language, phonics, and balanced literacy instruction? Whole-language is a method of teaching children to read by recognizing words as whole pieces of language. Phonics instruction is a way of teaching reading that stresses the acquisition of letter-sound correspondences and their use of reading and spelling. Balanced literacy is focused on opportunities for shared guided, and independent reading. This approach emphasized the use of leveled readers for independent reading practice and struggling readers.

Structured Literacy will end the debate regarding effective instruction. There are new changes in the legislation and teachers across the country will want to be prepared to support Structured Literacy in the classrooms. The International Dyslexia Association has developed the elements and principles that can be found in the Knowledge and Practice Standards (KPS) on their website.

There are many important components in Structured Literacy which makes this type of instruction very effective in teaching reading and spelling for our children. Therefore, next time you are in your child's classroom ask the teacher what kind of literacy program they are teaching your child. It can make a huge difference in your child's progress and education in school.

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