Reading is something that is easy, right? You are doing it right now. But think back to learning how to read. Was it easy, hard, or somewhere in between? Was it because your school used the Science of Reading method or another teaching approach? 

Many believe that learning to read is a simple skill to learn, similar to learning to speak. Science has revealed humans have evolved to the point where we have a language center in our brains, which allows us to learn speech quickly and easily with no instruction required. For example, when a baby learns to talk, parents are not given specific instructions on how to teach their child to speak. They say certains words in repetition until the child can recognize the pattern and repeat it vocally. However, learning to read is different because the human brain is not hard wired to read. In order to learn how to read, a person must be given very specific and explicit instructions that actually rewires our brains. Without these instructions, no one is able to learn to read.

So what is the best way to learn and to teach students to read? Let’s take a look at why science has deemed the Science of Reading the best teaching method and how it compares to the current curriculum.

What is the Science of Reading?

The Science of Reading is a comprehensive collection of research that encompasses years of research into the ways reading is taught to students. It also conclusively states that the Phonics Approach yields the best results. The Phonics Approach teaches students how each letter of the alphabet sounds and how letters correspond to each other and can change sounds. This approach is based on systematic learning and evidence based results.

What is currently being taught in schools?

Currently, many schools and teachers use what is called the Balanced Literacy Approach. This technique requires students to be constantly exposed to books. While it does teach some phonics, it focuses on students trying to figure out what the word is by either reading ahead or using corresponding pictures.

Science of Reading vs. Balanced Literacy Approach 

Now that we know the differences between these two approaches, which one is better? Many school districts believe that the Balanced Literacy Approach is best as it combines three different methods and can therefore be adapted to the needs of the person reading. However, this system is actually not teaching students to read in the most proficient or effective way. Under this teaching method, over 60% of fourth graders in America are not proficient readers. This statistic has remained the same since the 1990s. Comparatively, schools that introduced the Science of Reading as their only teaching method scored at or above the benchmark of proficient readers.

How to make the Science of Reading available in your classroom

1. Start the conversation with fellow teachers and administrators

Many teachers continue with the Balanced Literacy Approach simply because they themselves were not taught any other way.

2. Encourage phonics awareness

Once you have started the conversation around the Phonics Approach you can start to build awareness by building knowledge. You can do that by checking out these resources.

3. Find programs and resources that support the Science of Reading

The hardest part of change is finding the right resources that support that change. Wondering where to start? We recommend these resources from Scholastic.

At the end of the school day, we want students to excel at reading. Finding the method that works best for both teachers and students can take time, but the results speak for themselves

Looking for more support on your lesson planning? Check out our Intro Guide to Lesson Planning eBook for helpful advice on creating impactful lesson plans.

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