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Many teachers have recently heard of the popular teaching strategy and method for teaching early literacy known as the Science of Reading. Now, you may be asking yourself what it is and how you can implement it in your own classroom curriculum. Here’s all of what teachers should know about the Science of Reading and why you should start using it in your own kindergarten curriculum.

1. Improved Critical Thinking

In a more traditional educational model, children learn new words by memorizing the sequence of letters. This method is flawed in that it doesn’t prepare students for decoding new, larger, and more challenging words. This strategy may work alright for learning a limited number of simple words early in a child’s literary instructional journey. However, it doesn’t prepare them well for learning and understanding how to read and spell thousands of words in their future.

A large focus of the Science of Reading training is instructing students on how to read by firstly understanding letter sounds, then learning how to combine and decode them in words. This happens through a combination of the Science of Reading strategies of

-alphabetic principle and spelling-sound correspondence

-making children equipped to analyze 

-decode an unfamiliar word when they come across it in reading

These skills don’t just apply to reading, but also help children develop their critical thinking skills overall. Moreover, the ability to face a problem, analyze it, and decode it independently is an extremely valuable skill for young children to have. It not only helps them learn new and more complicated words but also help them in all areas of their academic learning.

2. Improved Self Confidence

When children start to try to read more complicated reading material, coming across new words can be frustrating. Sometimes, coming across new words can hurt their self-confidence and make them feel incapable. Why? They’ve only been taught words with the strategy of individually memorizing words as part of their vocabulary. Similarly studies have shown that children taught in this way tend to lose their confidence in themselves. They may also start to actively avoid reading to avoid the feelings of shame around their own perceived inabilities.

However, with the Science of Reading, children are more capable to decode and understand new words as they start to attempt more and more challenging reading material. Having the ability to independently “solve’ new words and decode their spelling can improve a child’s confidence and pride. They are more excited to take on new reading challenges and feel prepared to continue growing their reading skills throughout their life. In Science of Reading, children start with “decoder books” that make it easy to analyze the words. Their Science of Reading book can improve their confidence by making them feel capable. By the time they reach more advanced material, they have plenty of practice thinking through a word and figuring out its meaning independently.

3. Simplified References for Your Classroom

Take a look around your classroom. Do you have see a huge wall covered in “sight words,” or words that the class has learned as vocabulary words and has memorized? Though traditionally used this may not be the best approach. Why? The words are left up for children to reference, but as the word list for the year’s teaching grows, the wall gets more and more crowded. This is reflective of the increased dysfunctionality of traditional reading learning models. While it might seem simple at first to just have children memorize new words, eventually it becomes unreasonable to have to individually memorize hundreds and thousands of words.

Now, with the Science of Reading, it’s easy to give your class a reference that will enable them to decode and understand any word they come across while reading. The Science of Reading chart shows all the different sounds of the alphabet, rather than a never-ending list of words. Create a Sound Wall. What is a Sound Wall? It is a wall that features each of the letters of the alphabet and their sound correspondences. This wall serves as an easy reference tool for children to use. Students may use this to decode new words as they come across them. It engages and hones their skills while saving your class time – and precious wall space!

4. Unified Teaching Strategies

When each teacher is using their own personal style of literacy instruction, learning experiences and expectations vary widely for students between each grade level. The new instruction is given to them at the beginning of the new year, and often they have to abandon all of their previous learning and start to adopt the strategies most preferred by their new teacher. Then they have to start it all over again the following school year!

With the Science of Teaching, curriculum and guidelines are uniform and scaffolded smoothly across the grade and ability levels. When given access to Science of Reading professional development, teachers can communicate with one another  more effectively. This allows them to make sure the strategies, objectives, and plans they use can be combined together to make sure that as students advance through their school district or system. In addition, they can use the same strategies and methods that have worked for them so far without having to start their learning all over.

5. Making Reading Accessible

For children who have dyslexia or learning disabilities, reading doesn’t just feel different, it feels impossible. Traditional reading instruction fails to accommodate the needs of these students. Traditional models fail to teach reading in a systemic and explicit way, relying upon students’ ability to learn about reading independently through their own experience. This method completely fails students who are dyslexic, who have difficulty recognizing and picturing whole words as a complete piece.

Science of Reading is the best possible tool for children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. As DeJunne Jackson, Vice President of Program Development for the Center for Development and Learning said on the Science of Reading podcast, “The intersection of the Science of Reading and dyslexia is that the Science of Reading is the foundation for what dyslexia therapy is built upon.” Effective treatment for dyslexia is foundationally identical to the strategies of the Science of Reading.  Teaching students to think through the component letters, identify the sounds, and decode the word as a whole is vital. Most importantly, by teaching this strategy to a whole classroom from the beginning, teachers can guarantee that their students who struggle the most with literacy will have the ability to overcome their struggles and learn to read.

In conclusion, while adjusting your curriculum can take time and effort, the Science of Reading can truly help you teach not just more efficiently, but more equitably for your students while giving them the tools they need to continue learning reading throughout their childhood and adult life.

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