After language, reading is the most important skill for children to acquire. Apart from the joy of reading books, it is the passport to everything - all other school subjects, social interaction, physical and mental health, higher education, employment and even using the computer.
Various surveys put the number of Australians who can’t read well enough to understand newspapers or medication instructions at almost fifty percent, and it is no coincidence that very high rates of illiteracy are found in prisons and among the unemployed, homeless and suicidal. Employer organizations also complain about the low literacy levels of new employees.
However there are signs that the situation is improving. Many schools are now introducing the structured teaching of phonics into the early grades and are seeking training for their teachers from various organisations like LDA, SPELD and private providers.
Children who are taught in the first two years of school that reading is just about visual recognition of whole words also start experiencing difficulties in grade two. Often it is the intelligent child with good visual memory that surprises their teacher and parents by struggling with reading and spelling at this level. All they need is some training in basic skills like phonics to get them back on track.
Quote of the Day
From The Australian, 10th Dec 2010
Another persuasive one from the US. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4LtozMLMNc&feature=youtu.be
Watch Debbie Hepplewhites video 'A commentary on the resistance to research on phonics and reading' on this link.
Alison Clarke's Youtube video 'How phonics got framed'( http://tinyurl.com/a23cwb5 ) is great explanation of how and why the teaching of phonics was discarded in most schools, and why it is so important to restore it to its proper place in the teaching of reading.
See also Alison's website www.spelfabet.com.au which is full of useful information about the teaching of phonics skills.
Recent newspaper articles relevent to reading and spelling are included in the news box on this page.
The Articles page has a selection of 55 recent articles about learning to read and about teaching children to read and write.
The latest post is two articles about the effects of illiteracy.
Very important is the Macquarie University ARC CCD statement on dyslexia and reading impairment.
There is an article about the introduction of phonics based literacy program into a large Western Australian primary school. This article, by Jacqui O'Donnell, describes the research carried out to source a suitable program to improve literacy in the school, how it was implemented and the results after 4 years of using the program.
See also,Treating Dyslexia by Margie Gillis from the Smart Kids with LD newsletter.
There is also a very important article by Sir Jim Rose, 'Why Children Fail to Read' published on the International Foundation for Effective Reading website, www.iferi.org and a new article by Louisa Moats, 'Allegiance to the Facts: Best Approach for Students with Dyslexia'.
The International Dyslexia Association has produced the Dyslexia Handbook - What every family should know. This very informative book is just 33 pages and can be downloaded free from the IDA website.
The handbook not only contains invaluable information like the characteristics of dyslexia, what it is and what it isn't, but also provides information on valid assessments, effective teaching approaches, self-advocacy ideas and a vast array of resources.
Just go to www.interdys.org and click on the handbook on the home page.
Also on the books page are reviews of books about the teaching of reading. They cover teaching practices in the class room and teaching children with children with learning difficulties. They include Tom Nicholson's famous Phonics Handbook, Peter Westwood's Reading and Learning Difficulties: Approaches to Teaching and Assessment, Fay Tran's Teaching Kids to Read and The Effective Guide to Dyslexia and other Learning Difficulties (Learning Disabilities) by Michael Farrell.
New additions areThe Dyslexia Debate by Jullian Elliot and Elena Grigorenko, and Blueprint for a Literate Nation How You Can Help by Cinthia Colletti and Clarry and the little White Cloud by Fay Tran.
The readers page is for information about decodeable books which are useful for practising developing phonics skills in context. As a lead article on this page, Angela Weeks writes about choosing the right books for beginner readers. There is information about sets of readers suitable for classroom and home use, including the Australian series 'The Fitzroy Readers' and the Little Learners Love Literacy books. All readers reviewed are graded and vocabulary controlled so that children can develop their skills as they read.
On the software page are reviews of suitable programs for children to practise reading and spelling skills including the children's favourite, 'Word Shark' and the Australian 'Sound Blender'.
On the apps page are reviews of apps for reading, spelling, phonemic awareness, and handwriting. There are also apps listed with phonics books for reading practice rhyming words, sight word practice and tablets for writing and drawing.
Just added is the new Australian app Tricky Spelling. Other Australian apps are Profs' Phonics and Oz Phonics. There are 10 handwriting apps described.
The SPELD-SA Phonic Readers are now available for iPad as a free down load from speld-sa.org.au.
Phonics Hero has been added to the apps for phonics teaching section.
Learning2read.com.au is a new venture for us so we would welcome your comments or suggestions via the Contact us page. We would also welcome offers of sponsorship to cover the costs of managing the website.
Cartoon by Dick Weigall