How children learn to read – and the best way to teach them – has been extensively researched. The evidence from this research is that good classroom reading instruction has five elements – the Five Keys to Reading – all of which are necessary for children to become proficient readers.
Research has also identified that the best way to teach these essential elements is using explicit instruction methods. Children are more likely to quickly learn the skills and knowledge needed for reading with this systematic and structured method of teaching.
It is often hard for parents to tell whether or not their child’s teacher is using the most proven effective instruction methods but there are a number of indicators of good and poor teaching practices.
It is critically important for children to be thoroughly taught the relationships between letters and sounds in written English. Many children will not learn to read without explicit phonics instruction, and all children benefit from a strong grounding in phonics, especially for correct spelling. There are a number of ways you can determine whether your child is learning phonics in class:
A number of screening tools are available that can be used to find out what your child knows about reading. If you are worried about the assessment of your child’s reading progress given by these screening tools, don’t hesitate to share your concerns with their teacher. Early intervention is best.
Castles and Coltheart Test (CC2) Assesses decoding and whole word recognition (designed for children 6 years and older)
Letter Sound Test (LeST) Assesses knowledge of letter sound relationships
Phonics Screening Check Assesses decoding ability (designed for Year 1 students)
Get Ready to Read Assesses early literacy knowledge (designed for children before they start school)
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