What’s the best way for a child to learn how to read and write? As a homeschool parent, you’ve probably struggled with this question as you examined and searched for the right homeschooling curriculum to use with your family. Although the best approach in teaching a child to read and write has been debated for many years, most experienced educators still agree that phonics plays a major role in helping a child achieve superior reading and writing abilities. In fact, a 2004 study conducted by two researchers from Stanford University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison tracked the development of a skilled reader. The results ultimately showed that phonics “not only makes learning to read easier, but also allows the flourishing of other skills that lead to faster, better reading.”
So, just how does phonics and phonemic awareness in a homeschooling curriculum progressively improve a child’s ability to read and write? Consider these all-important advantages:
Increases word recognition
As a young child first learns the relationship between sounds and their spellings with the help of a comprehensive homeschooling curriculum, he’ll soon discover the necessary tools to decode words that match his listening vocabulary. What’s more, as he grows older and encounters new words that are more difficult, he’ll be able to identify and pronounce them more easily when using digraphs, diphthongs, and consonant and vowel blends.
Phonics gives a child a better grasp on the correct spelling of words through phonetic spelling rules. Granted, the English language is notorious for spelling “exceptions,” but phonics will undoubtedly improve a child’s mastery of spelling as he learns simple phonics rules such as “i before e, except after c” and “ies” or “ys” word endings.
Increases reading comprehension
When a child avoids misreading or stumbling over words in a sentence, his reading comprehension will also be increased. Decoding words gives him the ability to stop backtracking or restarting to determine the context of a sentence. Because the printed words on the page are able to be read fluently, it makes the meaning or ideas being communicated within the sentence that much more clearly understood.
The more a child reads unfamiliar words within the context of a sentence, the larger his vocabulary becomes. As a child learns to read more quickly and enjoyment increases, he’ll find new motivation and incentive to venture into more meaningful and challenging reading matter. Many students who learn phonics read at levels well above their grade level.
Improves writing and oral communication
A child who learns phonics increases his ability in other language areas, including grammar. Exposure to well-constructed phrases and sentences provides the seedbed and examples he needs to learn how to correctly formulate his own thoughts when writing or speaking.
Without a doubt, the importance of teaching phonics cannot be overstated. Like the Greeks, Romans, and early Elizabethan English discovered in the past, phonics is the most viable way to make a society literate. Today’s “Whole Language Method” of learning to read by guessing at words, looking at pictures, and substituting words to fit the context of a story, simply does not work as well as a structured, in-depth homeschooling phonics curriculum. Although additional effort is required in the beginning, teaching a child to read and write with phonics is well worth the future rewards of a child who succeeds academically and who simply can’t keep his nose out of a book!