The Correct Way to Teach Reading

The idea of a Correct System for teaching reading

I suspect that those who believe that a specific System is the way to teach correctly are probably strongly auditory/sequential to whom having “the correct system” is everything. To auditory/sequential  people, a defined system comprised of sequential steps and procedures is necessary.

To design such a System, great educational minds gather to design that Correct System; to define in elaborate detail the correct way to teach reading. Doing so makes perfect sense to them.

The value of any System depends entirely on how successfully it reaches the 63% of children who are struggling.

To auditory/sequential  educators, brilliantly executing the System is a primary goal. Master teachers are crowned every year who are fluent in the system and can execute it flawlessly. However, the value of any System depends entirely on how successfully it reaches the 63% of children who are struggling or failing.

Unfortunately, a sequential, logical, step by step System is just that. A system. It is not dynamic, imaginative, intuitive, and is blind to the fact that the majority of children won’t learn under a logical, sequential System that does not consider their brain’s natural wiring. The consequence to children within the System is failure and a learning disability label. Imagine telling any children they can’t learn?

The correct way to teach reading is whatever works for the child.

The idea that teaching reading is very complex

Many educators lament that teaching reading is a very complicated process, and so increasingly, the process of teaching reading has become increasingly complex with more details and more steps. To the 63% of children, adding more complexity and more steps only makes the task of learning to read more impossible.  

I suspect the process seems complex primarily because a large % of children continue to fail.

The battle between cueing, whole language, and phonics

The battle between whole language and phonics advocates continues. Over the decades the focus has shifted from whole language to phonics and back again. The current uproar involving the Units of Study cueing system, the Science of Reading response, and the teachers who are laboring to teach required curricula in the face of student failure highlights the problem. The arguments on both sides fail to consider the roughly 60% who are failing to thrive.

Neither system on its own is sufficient. Both fall short for children who need gestalt strategies.

An effective System for teaching reading

We don’t have to know each child’s wiring in order to teach them effectively if the resources are designed to accommodate a variety of processing styles. Children don’t need to know their own wiring either. As new material is presented using a right-brained approach (visual/spatial or gestalt), each child will naturally gravitate towards the elements that will help them and will ignore the rest. Visual learners will focus on the images, while kinesthetic kids will rely on the body motions. The brain itself does the learning, removing much of the difficulty from both teacher and students. Learning will happen naturally.

We as teachers naturally gravitate towards what makes the most sense to our own brain. The more left-brained (auditory/sequential) we are, the less relevant pictures, story, and body motions will seem – and the more A/S we are, the more we will believe right-brained elements are disruptive to children. Keep in mind – adults, like children, are wired differently, and even if a strategy makes no sense to us, it might mean the difference between success and failure to our right-brained students.

The effectiveness of a system lies is in its power to level the learning field for the 60% of struggling children.

My passion is for the underserved 60%

 Instead of striving to teach a System beautifully, I spent years laser-focused on how children learn. Read about Child1st Child-Centered Design. We can reach a large percentage of children who are currently failing to thrive in traditional classrooms.