Science of Reading vs Balanced Literacy in Kindergarten

Transitioning to the Science of Reading vs Balanced Literacy in Kindergarten is a journey! We get it! It’s not easy but you can make some small changes now that will improve your literacy instruction in big ways. Keep reading for the tips and support you need to bring research-based instruction into your classroom.

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Science of Reading Map Journey

By integrating the Science of Reading into teaching practices, teachers can provide students with a solid foundation in reading that equips them with the skills needed to become proficient and confident readers. This approach is backed by extensive research and has shown to be effective in helping a wide range of students, including those who may struggle with reading.

But how do we get there?

Check out the map below as a snapshot of some ideas of where to start and go to proceed forward!

An important note is to start by releasing the guilt of teaching techniques and reading strategies in the past that we now know not only didn’t help students but possibly stopped them from becoming fluent readers.

The memory of me walking around the room with a stopwatch, encouraging students to build stamina of reading to self without talking or interrupting others before I actually did any phonics instruction continues to haunt me…

Admit to yourself that you did the best you could at the time and as we know better, we do better.

Instead Of That Try This

Make small changes in your classroom tools, materials, and instructional methods to have a big impact on students’ growth as fluent readers.

  1. Instead of a word wall which is often confusing for students as it focused on “high-frequency” words without a logical phonics organizational pattern. The English language has 44 speech sounds/phonemes, 26 letters to represent those sounds/phonemes, and more than two hundred different ways to spell those sounds. When we think about the way our learners perceive the words they hear in speech, a sound wall makes sense. Read more about word walls vs. sound walls here.
  2. Instead of teaching students to memorize words with flashcards, for example, teach them to orthographically map them into sounds. Most English words are decodable, so teach students how to decode them! Learn more about decoding sight words here.
  3. Please stop teaching the 3 cueing system which encourages guessing words based on the picture, the first sound, or the context. This is NOT what good readers do in their heads! Students should use decoding skills and look at the letters/sounds of each word to read it. If you change anything in your classroom, please switch out your posters, handouts, and other materials encouraging students to guess when they have the tools they need to read. Learn more about Science of Reading strategies here and grab the free bookmark and poster!
  4. Use decodable books that reinforce phonics patterns that have been taught to students instead of a mix of skills found in leveled books. The goal of independent reading is to decode words and practice applying phonics skills with success, so if students haven’t been taught digraphs yet, don’t give them a leveled book with that pattern in them yet. Read more about Decodable Books in Kindergarten here.

You Got This!

Yes, there is a great deal of research and new information out there.

Yes, the Science of Reading will keep evolving as more research is conducted.

Yes, we know better now, so it’s time to start focusing literacy instruction on the way students learn best.

A great podcast to check out is Sold A Story by Emily Handford here. She is an investigative journalist that created a compelling podcast series about how balanced literacy has failed our children.

Teachers implementing the Science of Reading approach focus on providing explicit instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, and other key components of reading. This approach contrasts with some older methods that relied more heavily on whole-word memorization. By understanding how language is processed and learned, teachers can tailor their instruction to help all students become confident and proficient readers.

Remember, this is a journey and it’s okay to ask questions, revise teaching strategies, advocate for change, and continue to learn more.

Please join the conversation inside the Simply Kinder Teachers Facebook Group here or email us at [email protected] with your stories or questions.

At Simply Kinder we work together to bring you ready-to-use resources to partner with great teaching for any curriculum, a Facebook community where teachers talk all things Kindergarten, and low-prep learning ideas that your students will love. Be sure to stay up to date with all things kindergarten on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and through email. Simply Kinder: where teaching Kinder is definitely better together!

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