Teaching Children to Read
| The main methods to teach reading |

Recommended links for student teachers X

Simple View of Reading: reading ability is based on two major, essential, interacting but different components: phonics decoding ability x language comprehension (vocabulary and general knowledge). Note that both components are essential but neither component is sufficient on its own.

It is still unusual for nearly all of a primary school's children to regularly finish year 6 with decoding and spelling abilities at a level that allows them to deal confidently with the demands of the early secondary curriculum. The KS2 'Reading' SAT is a comprehension (English vocabulary and general knowledge) test and therefore is not a straightforward guide to how well a school has taught phonics for decoding (only the Y1 phonics check is able to do that) and spelling.

''Those who do particularly well without a knowledge rich curriculum succeed because of the knowledge and vocabulary they have acquired outside school''

''(O)nly curriculum-based [reading] tests can be fair and educationally productive'' (Hirsch 2006 p108)

''E D Hirsch describes how several recent studies have conclusively shown that background knowledge is the number one factor in reading [comprehension] ability, trumping academic ability and IQ in pupils, and complexity in texts''

All reading comprehension tests are really “knowledge tests in disguise.” (Willingham)

Elmhurst Primary is in Newham, east London, an area of high deprivation. Synthetic phonics (Read Write Inc) is used to teach children to read at the school. The headteacher, Shahed Ahmed, says, “More than 90 per cent of our pupils speak English as an additional language and we have 20 per cent mobility. The school ''has 1,000 pupils and not one of them leaves unable to read'' (TES. Lightfoot. 12/08/11) Furthermore, ''No child has been identified as having dyslexia since we adopted the [synthetic phonics] programme in 2004'' http://goo.gl/g4rJzQ Note that 'dyslexia' describes a persistent difficulty accurately decoding single words (Elliott.p178) and spelling (encoding).

Curwen primary school is also in Newham, east London. A teacher at the school says, ''Ten years ago 40% of our children left us not able to read properly. Now all of them leave us reading well...There are more EAL and economically deprived children in the school than there were 10 years ago. So, how come reading results are better?..The difference is purely down to the change in teaching methodology. We teach reading solely by using synthetic phonics [Read Write Inc]. It works''.

Another school which, through teaching the synthetic phonics programme Sounds-Write ''with fidelity'', has superb reading and spelling results, is St Thomas Aquinas in Milton Keynes.

St George's is a small primary school in Battersea, London. Half of its pupils have English as an additional language and over half are eligible for free school meals. The school uses Sounds-Write to teach reading and spelling. All its children have reached the required standard in the phonics decoding check 6 years in a row and all the children in Y1 and Y2 (2018) can spell at chronological age or better; good evidence that high quality synthetic phonics teaching in the early years actively prevents children from becoming ''phonetically deaf'' or 'dyslexic'

Michaela Community School (http://mcsbrent.co.uk/) is a state secondary school in an area of high deprivation in London. About a third of their pupils start in Y7 with reading ages below chronological age. By Y9 not a single child reads below their chronological age. This remarkable turnaround is achieved by the combination of a synthetic phonics intervention, lots of reading in class (for example: each science lesson, pupils encounter over 1,000 words of scientific prose pitched to GCSE, A Level and beyond) and the least able readers stay for 30 minutes after school every day for Reading Club.

In 1911, G. Stanley Hall, an American professor of education, wrote on the subject of dyslexia, ''It is possible, despite the stigma our bepedagogued age puts on this disability, for those who are under it not only to lead a useful, happy, virtuous life, but to be really well educated in many other ways'' (Quoted Ravitch p358) Attempts to put a positive 'spin' on dyslexia still occur today - dyslexia as a gift!

The late Martin Turner, formerly head of psychology at Dyslexia Action, said that it was a 'travesty' to talk about dyslexia as a bonus when it caused such suffering. ''It's a myth that there are compensatory gifts. Dyslexics go into the visual arts like sheep head for a gap in the hedge. They aren't more creative, they are more stressed.'' (Jardine) In a review of the research on dyslexia, Dr. Rice and Professor Brooks came to the same conclusion. ''On anecdotal evidence, the belief that ‘difficulty in learning to read is not a wholly tragic life sentence but is often accompanied by great talents' may seem attractive. However, systematic investigation has found little if any support for it.'' (Rice/ Brooks p18) . The late 'dyslexic' journalist AA Gill confirmed this view when he wrote, ''In truth, of course, dyslexics end up in the art room or the music studio or the drama class after school, because it’s the only place they aren’t special-needs remedial. They get good because they can’t do anything else.'' (Times 08/04/07 The Fish Club) AA Gill wrote about dyslexia in his book 'AA Gill Is Further Away' after a conversation with Prof. Julian Elliott (author of The Dyslexia Debate).

Entrepreneur Guy Hands, founder and chairman of one of the largest private equity firms in Europe, has severe dyslexia. He ''hates people who say "dyslexia is no bad thing, look at all the famous people who have got it". He will not shirk from saying: "I really wish I could read" (Observer. 13/01/08)

''Being unable to read is not a gift, not a superpower and sending this message of dyslexics being special is really unhelpful''  (Amanda, parent of a 'dyslexic'. Twitter)

''We test hypotheses that those with reading disability are compensated with enhanced creativity. Stronger reading was in fact linked to higher creativity, controlling for IQ''.

The ability to read and write well is key to a happy and successful passage through life in our society. Professor MacDonald wrote, ''My own research on the psychology of adult illiteracy has amply demonstrated that the ability to read is probably the most significant factor (out of many) in determining a person's sense of autonomy and self-worth.''(MacDonald p5) Intellectual independence also relies on good reading skills. ''Close reading of tough-minded writing is still the best, cheapest and quickest method known for learning to think for yourself.''(Gatto p56)

''The Centre for Social Justice found there are significant literacy and numeracy problems in 50-75% of children who are permanently excluded from school. Many children were found to “display challenging behaviour to hide the fact they cannot read.” (DfE.Evidence paper p1)

''Reading failure correlates with aggressive, anti-social behaviour more strongly than any social or economic indicator'' (Turner/ Burkard p13)

You do not have to delve very far into the world of educational academia to discover the so-called 'Reading War'. This is a long running and acrimonious debate between those who say that synthetic phonics is the most efficient and effective way to teach decoding and spelling and those who insist that reading through multi-clues (guessing) and memorised sight words, a so-called 'balanced approach', works just fine. The controversy extends into the progressive education community. Many of its members believe that nearly all children, given an environment full of books with helpful, literate adults on hand, can teach themselves how to read, just as they learnt to walk and talk.

''The essential constructivist principle is that teachers should teach nothing directly, but rather function as coaches while their students basically teach themselves''. Professor Stephen Krashen, ''a self-described 'staunch defender'' of whole-language, believes that, "(A)ny child exposed to comprehensible print will learn to read, barring severe neurological or emotional problems...Kids learn to read by reading'' (Allen)

Another of the major exponents of whole language, Margaret Meek, has famously said that children learn to read, "when there is something they want to read and an adult who takes time and trouble to help them". Whole language enthusiasts suggest that structured teaching to develop reading skills is not only unnecessary, it may be positively harmful'' (Palmer. TES. 10/11/95)  Australian children's book author Mem Fox also believes that ''all children will learn to read if they are exposed to enough books, words, stories..''

Fact and fiction with Mem Fox

The home literacy environment: ''Storybook exposure was not a significant predictor of children’s outcomes. In contrast, direct literacy instruction remained a predictor of reading / spelling skills."

X ''Surely if children can learn something as complex as speech without much effort, why do we need to go to the trouble of painstakingly teaching them phoneme/grapheme relationships?''

For an idea of the difficulty involved in learning to read using an opaque alphabet code, look at this re-coded, first line of a well-known nursery rhyme and work out what it says: ytoxto hruxsz ub ldyyuos xtmo (answer at the base of this page) ''This example provides the adult reader with some idea of the child's first experience with print. If you stared at this passage for years, you wouldn't have the slightest idea how to decode it. Why then should we expect a child to decipher the English alphabet code, one of the most complex ever designed, without direct instruction?'' (D.McGuinness WCCR p17)

Advice, commonly given, that the choice of method to teach reading should depend on your child's particular learning or thinking style, is incorrect. Although this advice sounds, on the face of it, sensible and reasonable, it does pupils no favours. ''Excluding students identified as “visual/kinesthetic” learners from effective phonics instruction is a bad instructional practice—bad because it is not only not research based, it is actually contradicted by research''
(Stanovich p30 http://lincs.ed.gov/publications/pdf/Stanovich_Color.pdf)

For true multi-sensory learning, lessons should provide multiple tasks that reinforce all possible sensory and motor systems in tandem: listening (phoneme analysis), looking (discriminate letter shapes/learn spelling patterns, visual tracking), writing (kinesthetic movement), and speaking (speech-motor system, auditory feedback) to anchor the spelling code in memory as quickly as possible.

Diane McGuinness explains multi-sensory learning:  
''The cognitive systems of the brain rely on cross-modal processing to form what are known as "routines" or "subroutines" -- which are carried out in the dendrites in "neural circuits." In a complex act, various subroutines/circuits are linked up in the brain (via neural pathways), because each one of them occurs in a different region. Thus, if you teach phonemes linked to letters, and reinforce this via writing, you have connected up the auditory cortex language areas of the medial left hemisphere, (phonemic analysis and synthesis already in place because of language), with something NEW - i.e. visual symbols (not ordinarily part of language processing) which engage the posterior occipital regions of the brain responsible for visual pattern analysis, and then link both to a kinesthetic response by writing what you hear and see, which engages the fine motor processing systems governed by the motor cortex (usually left hemisphere superior motor gyrus). When you link all three as you process text (or generate text via writing), these three systems of the brain "cooperate" and reinforce one another, and this doubles the speed of learning. You have three different parts of the brain (plus their subsidiary regions) acting in tandem''

Children rely heavily on good auditory skills to learn to decode and spell accurately (Macmillan p126-132), writing being a coded transcription of the sounds in our speech. Children who have had regular episodes of moderate hearing loss in early childhood are at increased risk of difficulties with learning to read, as are those who have acquired a dominant visual reading habit as a result of faulty initial teaching. Both sets of children need much more practice in the auditory aspects of reading, working at the phoneme level. This does NOT mean that time should be spent on discrete listening (phonological) exercises. Research shows that what develops children's reading skills best is time spent working with the phonemes AND letters (spellings) together.

''Teaching children to manipulate phonemes using letters produced greater effects than teaching without letters'' (USA.2000 National Reading Panel. See Chapter 2: 6, 21, 33, 41)

''The basic principle is that reading depends on speech, at every level.''

For the majority of children it doesn't seem to matter if the mixture of methods is used to teach them to decode. Over time most children manage to memorise many of the high frequency words by sight and invent strategies to work out longer, trickier words in their leveled scheme books. Sadly, a significant percentage of these, to all appearances, successful readers, will have had a more difficult time learning to read than is necessary, will remain poor spellers and will be unable to read accurately the more unusual words found in secondary level literature and advanced educational texts (school English books contain around 88,500 different words (D.McGuinness ERI p216)  The insidious effects of mixed decoding methods create young people who dislike reading and writing and are the cause of the vast numbers of teenagers who 'stall' in their studies at the secondary stage.

Why can’t children read… Dickens?

On the best age to start teaching children to decode and spell English words, in school, using synthetic phonics, the Rose report gives the following advice: ''(F)or most children, it is highly worthwhile and appropriate to begin a systematic programme of phonic work by the age of five, if not before for some children'' (Rose Report 2006. para89)

Sir Jim Rose noted that ''(A)n appropriate introduction to phonic work by the age of five enables our children to cover ground that many of their counterparts in other countries whose language is much less complex phonetically do not have to cover''(Rose Review.2006 para99)

When living in a print-saturated environment, many children attempt to read at a very early age. ''Letting them drift along using their invented strategies, without intervention, may harm them for life'' (D.McGuinness WCCR p153)

The statutory Early Learning Goals guidance says that by the end of the early years foundation stage [Reception year] children should be able to, ''use phonic knowledge to decode regular words and read them aloud accurately'' and, ''use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds''. Further guidance from the DfE notes that ''Most phonics programmes encourage the teaching of at least one grapheme for all 40-plus phonemes [a simple/basic code] by the end of Reception, alongside the skill of blending sounds together to read words'' (DfE) N.B. not all schools begin teaching phonics from the beginning of Reception and not all children have a full year in Reception (parents have the right to defer until the term after their fifth birthday).

2017. 'Bold beginnings' Ofsted's report into the Reception year curriculum.

2018. Effectiveness of Preschool-Wide Teacher-Implemented Phoneme Awareness and Letter-Sound Knowledge Instruction on Code-Based School-Entry Reading Readiness
''Overall, preschool-wide, teacher-implemented, phoneme-focused PA and LSK instruction can support code-based reading readiness skills for children with SLD and TD''

''So how can we make sure Reception is a success for every child?
By putting reading at its heart. And I mean reading in the widest sense of the word.
It is almost impossible to overestimate the importance of literacy. Without the ability to read, pupils cannot access other subjects properly. Literacy is empowering: it gives children independence to explore what interests them.
Phonics are undoubtedly central here. The evidence base is now overwhelming. It provides the body of knowledge children need so that they can read and pronounce words aloud.
But phonics knowledge only gives young children the means to say and decode words. It does not teach them what the words mean. Neither, without practice, does it enable children to read fluently and make sense of what they’re reading.
It’s by singing and hearing stories that children gain an understanding of what words actually mean. I'm talking about comprehension. And I’ve yet to meet a young child who did not enjoy listening to a story or singing a song with their fellow classmates.
There are some parents who don’t read to their children in the evening. That’s when schools have to step in and teach them not only how to read, but a love of reading.
Teaching 4- and 5-year-old children is important. Playing on their own doesn’t cut it.''
(Gill Jones.HMI.Ofsted's Deputy Director of Early Education )

X Prof.Daniel Muijs: Bold beginnings and the importance of reception

X Literacy in the early years: Ofsted’s Bold Beginnings report on Reception teaching was controversial, but it may ultimately serve to open some eyes and minds, writes Debbie Hepplewhite

Young children only stand to benefit from explicit instruction

''If we truly want all children to thrive in reading, we need to introduce phonics in early years''

Parents may be concerned that their children will be damaged if they start to teach them to read pre-school using synthetic phonics, having heard that it is dangerous to impose anything 'developmentally inappropriate' on young children. There is no scientific basis to this idea.

''(W)hy do we insist on waiting for children to be ‘ready’, only to then label them SEN when they don’t miraculously discover or do what everyone’s waiting for?'' (Quirky Teacher. Twitter 26/07/18)

Many parents have successfully taught children much younger than five to read using a suitable synthetic phonics programme. If you are uncertain about how well the schools in your area teach early reading and spelling, then this isn't 'hot housing' but a wise precaution. 'Bright' children will also benefit from an early start. Chartered psychologist Professor Joan Freeman writes, ''In my practice I see several children a week who can read, write and make excellent conversation, and who are well under school age, some as young as 2. No parent or teacher can make a child do this if they are not capable. The children are otherwise normal and happy and keen to learn. The numbers of them that I can see could doubtless be multiplied by many hundreds around the country. The proposed prohibitions by the anti-early-literacy group to stop enthusiastic children from getting the basics of literacy at nursery would be a cruel blow to their lively searching minds'' (Guardian.letters. 25/07/08)

X Recommended resources for teaching pre-schoolers to read.

''Once a child can read independently, the growth of many other skills is promoted'' (Research cited- Macmillan p7) ''Reading... opens some important doors...it gives the young learner a degree of autonomy and independence...also gives a child access to the whole culture of literacy. Reading makes it possible... to have access to vast quantities of stored knowledge'' (Howe '97 p154) ''The increased reading experiences of children who crack the spelling-to-sound code early..have important positive feedback effects. Such feedback effects appear to be potent sources of individual differences in academic achievement'' (Stanovich. Matthew Effects p364)

Strong evidence of the need to start direct teaching of phonics in Reception comes from Wales where a play-based  curriculum until the age of seven was put in place in September 2011.

Teaching ‘advanced academic content,’ in early years ‘'associated not only with improved math and English/language arts achievement but also with improved social-emotional outcomes''

Death of a dogma? ''The dubious concept of developmental appropriateness has had its day''
(Greg Ashman https://gregashman.wordpress.com/2019/01/10/death-of-a-dogma/)

Delaying the start of direct instruction can be detrimental, especially for boys, ''(D)elaying the start of school for a year has no benefits and is likely to lead to a substantial drop in IQ...the largest reading ability sex differences in the world occur in countries such as Denmark, Finland and Sweden where children don't start school until age 7'' (RRF 51 Macmillan)

Early reading acquisition and its relation to reading experience and ability 10 years later.
''(R)apid acquisition of reading ability might well help develop the lifetime habit of reading''

Research: Impact of a play-based curriculum in the first two years of primary school: literacy and numeracy outcomes over seven years. ''It appears that no extra positive effect can be found for the play-based approach on reading and maths outcomes, and that perhaps a slight negative effect is evident''.

''(A)t age eighteen, children who started school a year later had I.Q. scores that were significantly lower than their younger counterparts. Their earnings also suffered: through age thirty, men who started school later earned less. A separate study, of the entire Swedish population born between 1935 and 1984, came to a similar conclusion''

Early Years 'expert', Sue Palmer, ally of Steiner teacher Dr.Richard House and author of Toxic Childhood, is one of those who tars the teaching of early reading using synthetic phonics with the 'formal and risky' brush, once describing advocates as, ''(A) rabble of back to basics diehards'' (Palmer. TES 10/11/95). More recently she opined that it was ''cruel and mad'' to expect the majority of five year olds to be able to write simple sentences (NurseryWorld 11/1/12). But, as Sir Jim Rose said, ''The term ‘formal’ in the pejorative sense in which phonic work is sometimes perceived in early education is by no means a fair reflection of the active, multi-sensory practice seen and advocated by the review for starting young children on the road to reading'' (Rose Review.2006 Summary p3)

''I can’t help thinking that Sue Palmer, the literacy consultant and author of Toxic Childhood, doth protest too much, too often. This time she’s complaining about the government’s new EYFS writing target''

X Why Upstart is a non-starter. ''Upstart Scotland is actively campaigning to introduce a Nordic-style kindergarten system between the ages of three and seven, with learning being undertaken through ‘creative play’ rather than ‘formal’ learning''

Heather Fearn examined Schweinhart and Weikart's Perry High/Scope 'child led' pre-school program research:
''A few years ago I read a serious book on early reading instruction that stated, without question, that there was strong scientific evidence that direct instruction methods, used even at nursery level, lead to increased criminality among adults...''
''The EPPE study (http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/10005309/) was an enormously significant longitudinal Study funded by the DfES from 1997 – 2004 and with findings in support of our ‘child led’ EYFS curriculum. It actually cites the first highly flawed Schweinhart and Weikart study''
Heather Fearn looked closely at the EPP(S)E study:

The following ''non-experimental'' study is commonly quoted by those who suggest that it's unnecessary, even detrimental, for children to begin to be taught phonics around the age of five, as we do in England, and we should wait until the age of seven (when children's adult teeth usually appear). The main author, Dr.Suggate, is a strong supporter of Rudolf Steiner's theories about education.
In the following RRF messageboard thread, educational psychologist John Noble and Simon Webb, an author and blogger, comment on the study. http://www.rrf.org.uk/messageforum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4328

''Steiner was very clear about why delayed reading was a good idea – not because older children can learn to read better, but because memorising and reading interfered with the incarnation of the etheric body. It could damage a spiritual protective sheath around the child leading to illness and spiritual degeneration. ‘Developmental needs’ in the Steiner world are to do with the incarnation of spiritual entities. Only after adult teeth have appeared is a child spiritually ready to learn to read''

''Currently, the most vehement opponents of synthetic phonics are the Early Years lobbyists. Their belief system has it that teaching five-year olds to read is detrimental to their physical and mental well-being. They quote Finland where children do not begin ‘formal teaching’ until much later and learn to read easily to bolster their case...But there is nothing ‘formal’ about synthetic phonics teaching. It is multi-sensory and fun and can be achieved in 30 minutes a day, leaving several hours to be filled by child-initiated play, sand, water, painting, outdoor play, you name it.'' (Shadwell. issue 88. 2006)

X Debunking the Finnish fantasy, one piece at a time..

The Early Years opponents of synthetic phonics consistently fail to mention the evidence from Denmark on the teaching of early reading, possibly because it doesn't suit their agenda. ''Danish shares with English the features of a deep orthography and a complex syllable structure. In Denmark children do not enter primary school until they are 7 years old. Despite this 2-year age advantage, they experience difficulties in acquiring the logographic [sic] and alphabetic foundation processes which are comparable to those observed in English, although less extreme'' (Seymour/Aro/Erskine)

''(O)ur alphabetic system is not transparent as it is in Finnish, where there is only one way to spell each sound in the main. Our code needs to be introduced carefully from the simple to the more complex by teachers who understand it themselves. Left until six, our children will already have developed look and stare strategies, along with guessing and be well on the way to making a dog’s dinner of understanding the code.''(Shadwell. issue 88. 2006)

''In countries with a straightforward alphabet writing system, where each sound is represented by only one symbol, learning to 'crack the code' takes about twelve weeks for all children'' (D.McGuinness GRB p9)

Evidence suggests that many of those who have been taught to read through whole word memorisation along with guessing strategies for decoding, are handicapped by their lack of phonemic awareness and their limited knowledge of the advanced alphabet code. As a result they have difficulties accurately decoding unfamiliar words (especially multi-syllable ones) and with spelling.

This evidence is further supported by some fascinating research carried out by Just and Carpenter which looked at the eye movements of readers. This showed that, despite appearances, expert readers do not skip words or look at words as 'wholes' but attend to and process the individual letter/sound correspondences in every word as they are reading (Research cited -Macmillan p68)

Individual letter/sound correspondence processing is necessary because many words differ from another by only one or two letters - sad/said, diary/dairy, four/floor/flour, quit/quite/quiet... If, during reading, many words are guessed at and misread, it can completely change the sense of the text making it a meaningless, confidence-sapping exercise.

People interpret the meaning of the term 'sight word' in different ways. The most common understanding is that sight words are high frequency words (HFWs) which have to be visually memorised as whole shapes (customarily using 'look-say' flash cards). This is advocated by infant teachers who use mixed methods. The HFWs, they believe, are mostly ''non-phonetic'' or ''too irregular'' to be learned through phonics. Additionally, they think that if their pupils get off to a rapid start with the school's leveled scheme books, using those memorised sight words along with multi-cueing (guessing) strategies, this will be 'confidence-boosting'. Yet, as researchers Ashby and Rayner point out, ''(O)ne could argue that these children are only pretending to read, as the inherent magic of reading rests on the reader's independence'' (Ashby/Rayner.p60)

Synthetic phonics practitioners say that a 'sight word' is a word that a reader has successfully decoded many times before. As a consequence, it is decoded so rapidly below consciousness that it seems to the reader as though it is being read instantly, going straight to meaning without any phonological decoding. Prof. McGuinness points out, ''One should never think that just because "it seems like" we read instantly, this is, in fact, what we do. Our brain processes millions of bits of information all the time that we are not consciously aware of, because the processing speed far outstrips our ability to be conscious of it. An efficient reader has "automatized" or "speeded up" the decoding process to the point where it runs off outside conscious awareness'' 

''The adult brain does not use global word shape: it still processes the letters, but all at once (in parallel)and this results in skilled readers having ''an illusion of whole-word reading''
(Prof. Dehaene: how the brain learns to read bit.ly/28QsScK )

Literature review on eye movement & word identification: ''readers naturally access the sounds of words while reading silently'' p16

Modern eye-movement studies show that expert readers process all the information about a word at once using parallel processing: ''(T)he word-superiority effect demonstrates that skilled readers process all of the letters when identifying a word' (Ashby/Rayner p58) and ''represent complex aspects of a word's phonological form, including syllable and stress information'' (italics added. Ashby/Rayner p57), but this is done at a subconscious level. Only when the skilled reader comes to a previously unencountered word do the skills of phonological decoding come back into consciousness. ''(R)ecent brain studies show that the primary motor cortex is active during reading, presumably because it is involved with mouth movements used in reading aloud. The process of mentally sounding out words is an integral part of silent reading, even for the highly skilled'' see p90 www.psychologicalscience.org/pdf/pspi/reading.pdf

X Handbook of early literacy research Vol.2 -see Ch.4 by Ashby and Rayner on eye movement research.

''We have known for about a century that inner speech is accompanied by tiny muscular movements in the larynx, detectable by a technique known as electromyography. In the 1990s, neuroscientists used functional neuroimaging to demonstrate that areas such as the left inferior frontal gyrus (Broca’s area), which are active when we speak out loud, are also active during inner speech. Furthermore, disrupting the activity of this region using brain stimulation techniques can interrupt both “outer” and inner speech'' (http://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2014/aug/21/science-little-voice-head-hearing-voices-inner-speech)

Read the following (real) book title to examine your own phonological decoding skills. As an expert reader who implicitly understands how the Alphabet Code works (whether through direct phonics instruction or deduced over time) you'll find yourself tracking through the unusual words slowly left to right, segmenting one GPC at a time, mentally sounding out as you go, then blending the sounds as you proceed. 'Nonscience and the Pseudotransmogrificationalific Egocentrified Reorientational Proclivities Inherently Intracorporated In Expertistical Cerebrointellectualised Redeploymentation with Special Reference to Quasi-Notional Fashionistic Normativity, The Indoctrinationalistic Methodological Modalities and Scalar Socio-Economic Promulgationary Improvementalisationalism Predelineated Positotaxically Toward Individualistified Mass-Acceptance Gratificationalistic Securipermanentalisationary Professionism, or 'How To Rule The World'. Brian J. Ford (Wikipedia. Nonscience)

X 3 Reasons why segmenting is the mother of all skills in learning to read and spell
''As a literate adult, you may not realise that when you are reading, you are segmenting words into their constituent sounds and then blending them to form words''

The most important socialising force for a child is their peer-group. The influence is especially strong during middle-childhood (6-12 yrs) (Harris p226). This factor needs to be considered in the reading equation. A child, whose everyday companions, in school or out, consist of other children who think that reading is boring and unpleasant, will copy those attitudes, ignoring those held by parents or other significant adults. This is another important reason for most children to begin a systematic synthetic phonics programme by the age of five (Rose Report 2006. para89), before any anti-book, peer-group influence takes hold.

There is a, ''widespread and pervasive misunderstanding that poor decoders are, in some way, intellectually inferior'' but, ''we can make no judgements about an individual's intellect based upon their decoding skills'' (Elliott. LDA Bulletin p13) Alexander Faludy, described as ''so severely dyslexic that he can barely write'', won a place at Cambridge University at the age of 14. (Times 17/01/98) Another high IQ 'dyslexic' (he has the spelling ability of an 8 year old), Ben Way, was a multi-millionaire businessman by the age of 20 (Telegraph 10/01/00)

Children with serious intellectual disabilities can learn the mechanics of reading. Children with hyperlexia are self-taught, fluent decoders from an extremely early age but when hyperlexia is accompanied by an intellectual disability (it is commonly linked to autism) reading comprehension will be poor.
A parent on Mumsnet reported that her son with hyperlexia could read the Financial Times at age three. She also said that he was badly handicapped by a lack of phonics knowledge as he progressed through school and this resulted in him being unable to spell: ''What happened with my son was that because he was an exceptional reader he was never taught phonics and in Y6 he was still not writing anything! His teachers and numerous Ed Psychs were totally fooled by his apparent fluent reading (if only the PSC had been around) and dismissed his difficulties because of this''
Mona McNee, founder of the UK Reading Reform Foundation, taught her own son to read using synthetic phonics, despite the fact that he has Down's syndrome (McNee p8). The researchers Cossu, Rossini and Marshall found that Italian children with Down's syndrome could decode quite competently, having been taught the transparent sound-symbol correspondences of the Italian alphabet code, but they lacked comprehension of what they read.

Can children with intellectual disabilities learn to read?

There is a widely circulated myth that too much emphasis on decoding through phonics causes children to 'bark at print' aka ''Ron Burgundy Syndrome'' but, as Prof. Stanovich points out, ''There is no research evidence indicating that decoding a known word into a phonological form often takes place without meaning extraction. To the contrary, a substantial body of evidence indicates that even for young children, word recognition automatically leads to meaning activation..when the meaning of the word is adequately established in memory''(RRF 50 Stanovich p8)

See- Ron Burgundy Syndrome

Specific Reading Comprehension Disability: Major Problem, Myth, or Misnomer?
''Although poor reading comprehension certainly qualifies as a major problem rather than a myth, the term specific reading comprehension disability is a misnomer: Individuals with problems in reading comprehension that are not attributable to poor word recognition have comprehension problems that are general to language comprehension rather than specific to reading''

''Experienced practitioners and teachers point out that, in the course of phonics teaching, as children 'start to get the hang of it', they begin to self-teach and 'need to read a lot to consolidate their skills', that is, to develop effortless reading and focus more and more on comprehending the text. At this point, children may appear, some would say, to be 'barking at print' without fully understanding what they are reading. Although this is often levelled as a criticism of phonic work, such behaviour is usually transitional as children hone their phonic skills. Given that even skilled adult readers may find themselves 'barking at print' when they are faced at times with unfamiliar text, it is hardly surprising that children may do so in the early stages of reading'' (Rose Review para 49) Canadian SEN teacher Susan S notes that, ''You find the phenomenon of children who decode very well but understand almost nothing in only two populations: children with intellectual disabilities and children with very limited English'' (Kitchentablemath blog 30/12/08)

Who speaks for reading, writing and literature?

Research, studying factors that predict children's reading ability, showed that in Britain the strongest predictor at age seven was the mother's level of education rather than the child's IQ (D.McGuinness WCCR p29). 

''When teachers don't teach, the education children receive from their parents becomes of paramount importance, and the children of ill-educated parents are at an overwhelming disadvantage'' (Burkard.2007.p30)

Education isn't natural - that's why it's hard. ''Schools exist to teach the hard stuff that children are unlikely to just pick up from their environments''

''Most schools rely on parents to teach children to read..''

In education, is poverty destiny?
''At an academic level, we should again focus on the agency of the school. An approach to early reading that places heavy emphasis on children taking lists of sight words home to learn is inequitable. So is an approach that hinges on practising reading at home. Instead, children need to be explicitly and systematically taught to read while they are in school''

''I still can’t help but be concerned about the fact that only 44% of disadvantaged, white working class males achieve an acceptable outcome by the end of reception year'' (Quirky Teacher. twitter 06/03/18)

Graphs in this paper show the lack of phonics decoding/encoding ability in US pupils. ''Yet, poor reading achievement in the United States continues to be a persistent problem. Numerous research findings have suggested that too few children are acquiring the decoding and fluent reading skills necessary to become competent readers. We propose that one reason for these poor outcomes is the preponderance of initial reading programs that fail to provide students with adequate phonics knowledge''

Prof. Willingham examines Developmentally Appropriate Practice

What reading does for the mind: Cunningham&Stanovich

Does Learning to Read Improve Intelligence?
A Longitudinal Multivariate Analysis in Identical Twins From Age 7 to 16

Why do wealthy kids usually do better in school than poor kids?

Answer: London Bridge is falling down

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