Phonics Instruction: Less Reteaching, More Time for New Learning

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While the best way to teach reading is still debated, years of research support explicit, systematic phonics instruction as the foundation for reading success. In 2000, the National Reading Panel¹ recommended teaching phonics patterns by following a defined scope and sequence.

“Learning to read is not natural or easy for most children. Reading is an acquired skill,” states prominent reading researcher Louisa C. Moats.² In her paper, Teaching Reading Is Rocket Science, she stresses the importance of the direct teaching of decoding and phoneme awareness instruction, as well as systematic and explicit instruction in the code system of our written language.

Other leaders in the field, Timothy Shanahan and Anita Archer,³ agree that the teaching of phonics is the foundation for all other reading skills.

A December 2019  Education Week article reviews the top 5 literacy programs used in classrooms across the country. The article analyzes the way phonics is treated in each of the programs. It notes that phonics instruction may be weak or too subtle in many commercial reading programs.

The bottom line—available curriculums and instructional programs are numerous. Some include explicit phonics instruction, while others do not. However, reading education at the primary level must include systematic phonics instruction.

What’s a teacher to do?

If you’re a primary teacher who’s looking to pair explicit phonics instruction with systematic practice, check out Simple Solutions Phonics (available for K–3). The Simple Solutions Approach increases mastery and long-term retention by integrating three research-based strategies: retrieval practice, spaced repetition, and interleaving. These strategies interrupt the forgetting process, allowing students to cement their learning of sound/symbol relationships. Our approach lets you spend less time reteaching, giving your students more time for new learning!

Download free samples and try them out with your students!

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¹ National Reading Panel (U.S.), & National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (U.S.). (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching children to read: an evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction: reports of the subgroups. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health.

² Louisa C. Moats, EdD, is well known for her research and writing about the need for improvements in teacher education. She is the author of many influential journal articles, policy papers, and books on reading, spelling, language, and teacher preparation.

³ Dr. Timothy Shanahan is a past president of the International Literacy Association and former director of reading for Chicago Public Schools. He was a leader on the National Reading Panel in 2000 and is author/editor of more than 200 publications. Anita Archer, PhD, is a curriculum writer and consultant to school districts on explicit instruction, especially literacy. She believes that instruction should be systematic, direct, engaging, and success-oriented.

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