So, what can we take-away from this? First, systematic phonics instruction is key, in addition to phonemic, or sound awareness. Why sound awareness? And what exactly is phonics instruction, let alone systematic phonics? Let's start with phonics. Phonics (or learning to read) is simply two steps: (1) knowing the letter-sounds (the sounds the letters make when reading them); and (2) putting those sounds together. And as far as a system goes, a system needs to be both organized & thorough - in order to get any job done. Regarding sound awareness, being able to manipulate sounds will help a student with both phonics steps.
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The panel consisted of 14 members, from varying backgrounds: teachers, school administrators, and scientists (involved in reading research). The panel was tasked with reviewing all available research - more than 100,000 studies on reading - to determine the most effective methods of teaching our children to read. The study also involved hearings open to the public, for opinions to be voiced.
After more than two years of research, the National Reading Panel concluded their intensive review, and published their results - in April of 2000, "The National Reading Panel's analysis made it clear that the best approach to reading instruction is one that incorporates:
>Explicit instruction in phonemic* awareness *phonemic=sound
>Systematic phonics instruction..
Alphabet to Phonics Simple - tools to walk Non-readers to readers
"The panel found that a combination of techniques is effective for teaching children to read:
Phonemic awareness—the knowledge that spoken words can be broken apart into smaller segments of sound known as phonemes. Children who are read to at home—especially material that rhymes—often develop the basis of phonemic awareness. Children who are not read to will probably need to be taught that words can be broken apart into smaller sounds.
Phonics—the knowledge that letters of the alphabet represent phonemes and that these sounds are blended together to form written words. Readers who are skilled in phonics can sound out words they haven't seen before, without first having to memorize them..."
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You'd like to teach your child to read, but you'd also like to know it's based on tried and true techniques (even research-based, if possible). That way you'll have the best chance of success. Well back in 1997 U.S. Congress convened, arguably, the largest research study - to determine how children learn best to read. Working with the National Institute of Child and Human Development (NICHD), along with the U.S. Department of Education, they established a National Reading Panel.