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Should Phonics Be Taught in Elementary School?

by Dr. Aleathea Wiggins

Phonics is considered to be one of the most effective methods for teaching elementary school students worldwide how to read and write. It has been established that the phonics teaching method offers a wide variety of benefits to young students who are just developing a basic understanding of how sounds are associated with single letters, groupings of letters and full words.

Phonemic Awareness

Every word consists of individual components that can be sounded out. These components are known as phonemes, and they make up the base for the teaching of phonics. Phonics enables students to hear and identify phonemes and understand the correlation between sounds and their associated letters.

Progressive Learning

Basic phonics skills enable children to learn to read independently.

Phonics gives students a foundation for learning new words, enabling them to grow their vocabularies. It also assists students with remembering word parts they learn so that they can learn new words with these same parts more quickly. In turn, reading comes more quickly. Phonics can also play a role in whole-word recognition. As students recognize large sections of words without having to sound out single phonemes to decipher each word, they read more quickly and fluidly.

Reading and Writing Ability

The bottom line of phonics teaching is that it significantly furthers students' ability to read and write. Students with strong phonics skills are much more likely to develop strong spelling skills. These skills allow them to put single letters and combinations of letters together quickly and easily for the words they read and write.

Motivating Teaching Method

One of the reasons why phonics is a successful teaching method for many students is that much of the available curriculum is engaging and motivating for students. When students are having fun with their learning, they are more likely to be successful with it.

Future Reading Challenges

Although teaching phonics might be beneficial initially, research has indicated that teaching children to read using a whole-language approach would be better for future reading skills. Children naturally understand words and language in whole parts rather than broken down into letter-sound parts. Teaching phonics at the early stages of reading and then switching to a whole-language reading program would be a better approach. Otherwise, children may experience reading challenges in the future, such as reading at a slower pace and having difficulty reading new words that do not follow regular phonics rules.

About the Author

Dr. Aleathea Wiggins is a writer specializing in health, parenting and family issues. She is a former university professor, curriculum facilitator, and teacher. Dr. Wiggins holds advanced degrees and credentials in journalism, education, health and childcare administration. She has worked as a professional writer since 2009.

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