Reading requires children to use many skills at once, and apply different aspects of their information processing system. Obviously, language development plays an integral role in facilitating the development of reading. There are two approaches to help understand reading development, the whole language approach and the phonics approach.
The whole language approach argues that reading should be taught in a way that parallels natural language development. In this approach, from the start children should be exposed to the whole text, in its complete form. This allows them a chance to appreciate how written language acts as a communicator. According to the whole language approach as long as reading is meaningful, children will be motivated to learn the specific skills they need to read.
According to the phonics approach, children should be coached first on the phonics, or the basic rules for translating written symbols into sounds. Children learn letters by their shape and connect them to the sound that they make. They eventually are able to start blending letter’s sounds together to form words. Phonics training promotes children’s belief that they can succeed at challenging reading tasks.
For the most part, studies on reading development show that children learn best with a combination of both approaches. A combination of approaches allows children to learn the relationship between letters and sounds. It also enables children to learn how to decode or decipher words that they have never seen before. Finally around age 7-8 years, children should make the shift from learning to read, to reading to learn.
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