The Importance of Foundational Phonics Skills for Elementary School Students

phonics instruction young studentsHave you ever spent time learning a new skill just to find out that you didn’t learn it the right way? You feel frustrated because you spent a lot of effort trying to learn the skill one way and forcing yourself to learn new habits, only to learn that you have to change the habits you just learned.

One case where this can happen is with reading instruction. Research has found that 30% of students do not automatically learn how to read with traditional instruction. This means 30% of students have to be re-taught reading if they are originally taught with traditional instruction.

In order for that 30% of students to learn how to read correctly the first time they are taught—you should use step-by-step, multisensory explicit phonics instruction when teaching kindergarten students how to read. Research has found this type of structured literacy instruction to be crucial to the success of the 30% of students that do not naturally learn to read and it is beneficial for ALL students. This is because effective phonics instruction helps students better understand the English language and build a solid reading foundation.

The type of instruction you use when teaching your kindergarten students has the potential to create lasting effects that will impact each student throughout their life. The largest benefit to effective phonics instruction on the kindergarten level is the prevention of reading intervention in the future. The benefit of preventing reading intervention is much more valuable than it is often credited. By providing students with effective phonics instruction from the beginning of their education, teachers provide students with a solid reading foundation, spurred learning, and self confidence.

By using effective phonics instruction on the kindergarten level you will help spur student learning in the future by preventing the need for reading intervention in the future. If students must focus their efforts in 1st-3rd grade on relearning how to read because they were unable to grasp reading with initial instruction, they cannot focus on learning new material and advancing their education. By teaching students in a way that offers the highest potential of success in reading, you can help students build a solid reading foundation and remove the need for students to spend time relearning basic reading strategies in the future.

When you eliminate the need for reading intervention in the future you also provide a benefit for students emotionally. Needing special instruction and seeing a disparity between the skills of the individual student to his/her peers, can take a negative toll on self-esteem. Through teaching students with effective phonics instruction and giving them the highest probability of success, you are removing feelings of inadequacy in the future.

It is important for students to learn effective skills from the start of their education. It is especially important for students to build effective reading skills because of the impact those skills will have on the remainder of their education and entire life. Effective phonics instruction at the kindergarten level can set your students up for a future of successful reading!

To learn how to teach phonetic skills to your students, sign up for the Reading Horizons Online Reading Workshop—a fantastic resource for teachers!