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The Reading Wars

The reading wars…

Hello to you all, this week is short and sweet from us, but begins a discussion on a subject you’ll hear a lot more from us about.

As children in the southern hemisphere headed back to school this month, some will be attending schools who are trialing a ‘not new’ approach to learning to read – Structured and Explicitly Taught Phonics.

The reading wars have been raging since the 1960’s – maybe before… and as the mothers of dyslexic kids we’ve followed them pretty carefully. New Zealand’s literacy standards have been falling since the 1990’s which is a concern that needs addressing urgently.

There are many who tout this method as the only way that children will learn to read. They throw around terms and phrases such as ‘evidence based’ – and that this teaching method will teach ALL children to read.

This is simply not true – The truth is that what the evidence actually shows is: that 80% of children will indeed learn to read from such a strategy… which is great…but what about the 20% of children who are tagged as ‘non-responders’ in ALL of these studies.

Yes – The results are consistent across all the reading studies.

We know that 15 – 20% of the population are dyslexic… could it be that these 20% of non-responding children are our dyslexic kids? It seems so.

We will be addressing this in future blogs so keep an eye out.

In the meantime, we will be keeping a close eye on the trials and the results…

As parents we advise you to also keep an eye on your child and their reading progress. IF you see they are not progressing – or worse, becoming more confused, it is time for you to take a stand.

You do know your own child best and it is likely that there will be a better approach for your learner. If a child is aged 9 or older and has not learned to read with explicit instruction on the sounds within words, then it is likely that they won’t. The same applies of course, to adults who are learning to read.

We agree that the phonic strategy is a good one for a strong majority of children, but we are also adamant that potentially 20% of children falling through the cracks is far too many.

To be honest, even one child is too many, when teachers and parents know that there are other options and strategies to try, and we need to call a ceasefire to the reading wars and give all children what they need to become capable and confident readers and learners for life.

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