A Balanced Approach To Teach Children To Read

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Students are required to develop a range of skills and knowledge to become competent readers. The best approach to teach children to read has been debated for many years with differing views presented. Different approaches include, bottom up, top down and more recently a balanced approach. A balanced approach utilises the teaching of all key elements to create competent readers who can construct meaning from text. The six key elements of a balanced approach are, oral language, phonological awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension, assist with developing competent readers. The development of reading skills requires a systematic balanced approach which is supported by various strategies to develop competent readers.

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Winch et al., (2014, p. 5) highlights that although there is debate over the best approach to teaching students to read, a balanced approach is most commonly accepted. The content descriptors in the Australian Curriculum (Winch et al., 2014, p. ###) and literacy learning continuum (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority, n.d.) requirement for literacy efficiency promote a balanced approach. A combination of approaches, including those used for top down and bottom up approaches can assist in a balanced approach. Winch et al. (2014, p. 6) advises that a balanced approach provides the opportunity for meaning to be placed on readings and recognises key aspects such as code and context of readings as well as developing effective strategies to assist with developing reading skills. Thus, highlighting that there is more to reading than simply understanding single elements. With a balanced approach to reading, emphasis is placed around developing semantic, grammatical, graphophonic and visual knowledge (Winch et al., 2014, p. 6). Developing fundamentals can occur whilst teaching the key elements of a balanced approach. The elements of a balanced approach to reading are oral language, phonological awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension (Konza, 2010, p. 1-6). These elements are supported by Pressley (as cited by National Educational Psychological Service,…show more content…
Emerging readers need to develop their oral language through listening and talking skills in social contexts. Oral language can assist with constructing meaning of written words. Oral language is connected to graphophonic cueing systems, which is the connection of sounds to letters on a page (Winch et al., 2018, p. 11). Students need to know the sound words make in order to read. Various strategies can be used in the classroom to work on student’s oral language development. Tompkins, Campbell and Green (2012, p. 8) highlights that teachers who understand language as a social purpose tend to plan instructional activities with social components. Thus, within a classroom, teachers can implement play-based learning to encourage and promote oral language. Utilising shared, guided and modelled reading can further assist in developing oral language. These strategies can include additional elements of a balanced approach. The reading of a book aloud in a classroom setting and pointing at words as the words are spoken aloud provides students with the opportunity to see the spoken word in written context. Konza (2014, 154) notes in some research, oral language is excluded as a key element in learning to read. Although research suggests that oral language difficulties can lead to reading difficulties, therefore it is an important element. Once students understand oral language teachers can commence with working on
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