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Celebrating 20 Years of Evidence-Based Education and SpellRead

Understanding The Science of Reading

By Halifax Learning on Thu, Nov 04, 2021 @ 08:00 AM

Halifax Learning embraces the Science of Reading. It’s a term often used when discussing remedial reading programs, but many parents we talk to aren’t entirely clear on what it means. 

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We know that being a proficient reader has a huge impact on a child’s entire education. In this post, we want to talk about what the science of reading is and how it enables students to succeed not only in reading but in all areas of learning.

What is The Science of Reading?

As the name implies, the science of reading is based on methods and statistical analyses drawn from the work of experts in education, special education, psychology, neurology, literacy, and more. Over 20 years in the making, their evidence-based body of knowledge has helped uncover the deficiencies in traditional observation-based methods. 

The conclusive research of the science of reading gives educators the information they need to gain a deeper understanding of how children learn to read, what skills are involved, and which parts of the brain are responsible for reading development. From the research, experts have been able to develop a best practices approach for teaching foundational literacy skills often called “structured literacy.”

By helping educators understand the cognitive processes essential for reading proficiency, the science of reading helps prevent many reading difficulties in young students who are most at-risk. And studies have shown that for students in higher grades, intensive phonemic awareness and decoding training coupled with opportunities for repeated practice with reading controlled text has been highly effective. 

How Science of Reading Differs From Traditional Reading Instruction

Conventional reading instruction emphasizes whole world memorization, which can impede a student’s progress. Phonics empowers students by increasing their reading power. Here’s how it works.

Reading development can be divided into three stages: letters and sounds, phonic decoding, and orthographic or spelling mapping. When a child memorizes 10 words, they generally can read those 10 words well. However, if the child learns the sounds of 10 letters, they can read:

  • 350 three-sound words
  • Over 4,300 four-sound words
  • 21,650 five-sound words

As learning to read is a complex neurological process, it only makes sense to use evidence-based methods to support all readers.

Are Phonics and Science of Reading the Same Thing?

The science shows that systematic, explicit phonics instruction is the foundation for successful reading. Yet while phonics, which is about decoding words, is a critical component in early reading education, other techniques are used by educators to keep students focused and energized as they master challenging skills. The science of reading also:

  • Incorporates connecting phonics to spelling instruction.
  • Recognizes the importance of language and reading comprehension.
  • Focuses on building vocabulary and background knowledge.
  • Helps students develop comprehension skills.

So, while phonics is certainly an essential element in the science of reading, it’s not the whole thing, in fact, ​​ efficient reading instruction includes: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, reading fluency, and reading comprehension - all working together.

How Halifax Learning Can Help

Halifax Learning is committed to transforming students’ lives through the power of reading. Halifax Learning's delivery of the SpellRead Program is a fully integrated approach based on specific skill mastery that uses language-based reading and writing activities to help children, particularly those who struggle with reading, improve their reading skills.

To learn more about the science of reading and how Halifax Learning can help support your child’s learning needs, reach out to us today.

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There’s a science to it – but reading’s not rocket science

By Halifax Learning on Wed, Oct 28, 2020 @ 11:58 AM

Every kid can learn to read, and well

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There’s a lot of uncertainty about education in a post-pandemic world, but thankfully one thing that remains certain is that virtually all children can learn to read, and read well.

The science of reading continues to evolve, but there are tried and tested notions of what’s involved in learning to read. And it’s not rocket science for parents to learn it.

Melinda Cameron, one of the three partners at Halifax Learning, spells these out in the centre’s first webinar -- All Children Reading Well.

Melinda is a teacher with 15 years experience, and she’s working on her Masters in Literacy Studies. She’s also a mom with a daughter who is now in Grade 1. Melinda admits that with the schools shut down during the pandemic and over the summer, she was worried about how her daughter would get the instruction she needs.

Hence the 32-minute webinar, where she shares with other parents “how I’m making that happen, how Halifax Learning’s making that happen, and what we can do together to support each other.”

It’s the first in a series of webinars the centre is developing to educate and empower parents.

Parents can and should help

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“People ask me all the time, is there anything I can do to help my kid? And that question sort of breaks my heart, because of course there are things you can do to help,” says Melinda.

You don’t have to be a reading scientist, but it helps to have an understanding of the basic skills that are required to read, and these include:

  • Phonological awareness – The ability to hear and play around with parts of words, including phonemic awareness, which is the ability to break sounds into different syllables and manipulate them;
  • Phonics – making a connection between a sound and the letter that represents it;
  • Vocabulary – which becomes more and more interesting and fun for kids as they get older; reading with a parent is a great way for learners to develop vocabulary;
  • Fluency – reading accurately, with good pacing and intonations;
  • Comprehension -- the “end goal.” The point of learning to read well is to understand what we’re reading.

The webinar covers each basic in some detail, providing parents with a general understanding of them.

Frequency is what counts

Time and time again, educators emphasize the importance of parents reading along with their children. “If you do nothing else with your child at home in terms of their education, I think reading has to be it,” confirms Melinda.

All Children Reading Well Webinar

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