Teaching Phonics to Five-Years Old
From the "World of Dyslexia" newsletter, http://www.worldofdyslexia.com
Full report in "The Dyslexia Review" http://www.dyslexiaaction.org.uk/dyslexia-review
Benefits of Early Phonics to Five-Year Olds
Researchers at the UK's prestigious London University Institute of Education have published the findings of their latest research into the use of phonics with 5-year olds. Traditionally, children of this age have been taught using 'whole word' or 'Look and say' methods, and phonics have not been introduced until around age six or later.
The teachers and researchers worked with 122 five-year old children, with the majority speaking English as a second language. A parallel group worked in the traditional way, using 'Big Books'. The experimental group used 'Jolly Phonics' (one of many phonics programs available). The two groups were matched using various factors. During the 12-week period of the experiment, teachers taught the children phonics (or the 'Big Book' method for the control group) for one hour each day.
Children were tested before and after the 12-week period. With the the group learning phonics there were 'strong and significant effects... on the development of reading and writing'. The results showed that 'phonemic awareness, segmentation and blending skills, and phonic knowledge influence the development of of reading and writing skills.' Following this research, 22 other London schools took part in an extension of the experiment, with 'highly significant improvements ... The teachers were in no doubt that that their change of method had produced dramatically different results from those they normally obtained in Year R (kindergarten), with well over half the teachers... expressing surprise at the effectiveness of phonics teaching, even with EAL children (whose first language is not English), and delight at their children's rate of progress'.