Dyslexia and Synthetic Phonics research.
The generally accepted literacy support for dyslexia is the implementation of a tailored learning pace based on the needs and experience of individual children. The tailored approach includes an emphasise on a multisensory phonics based approach.
This solution should be handled by teachers that have undergone specialization training that allows them to immediately identify those that are struggling. Our specialist tutoring team comprise expert teachers that have been specifically trained to assist Dyslexic children.
Obviously, there is no singular solution for special learning difficulties like dyslexia. Resent dyslexia news from the UK demonstrated this. Politicians, including education secretary Baroness Estelle Morris expressed concern about the two political parties pledging the adoption of synthetic phonics by reading teachers should they win the election. Should this happen, as many as 400,000 children with dyslexia may face problems in learning to read. This is due to synthetics phonics being a one size fits all approach to reading that does not always suit Dyslexic children.
At Focused Education we understand that different types of Dyslexia require tailored, specific approaches. Children often have conditions aside from Dyslexia, such as ADHD or Autism. Our specialists look at each child individually. As a result, we often identify other learning difficulties children encounter.
The concerns on undermining the efforts of both teachers and learners is highlighted in the result of a U.K. poll conducted on over 500 literacy teachers where 52 percent believed that the approach of the government in helping dyslexic pupils is either not very effective or ineffective. This belief is based on the possibility that even pupils without dyslexia may be held back making it counterproductive to strategies of improving reading.
Moreover, results of the poll showed that only 20 percent of teachers have expressed full support of the new phonics test the government plans to implement for six year olds. The main problem is that this test makes children spell real as well as made-up words, which means that brighter children become victims because they attempt to make every word a real one; leading to more mistakes than necessary.
A Reducing Emphasis…
Focused Educations staff understand the importance of synthetic phonics. We advise schools, TAFE and government organisations when to use synthetic phonics and when other phonic approaches may help.
The important role that synthetic phonics can play in the learning environment though is not completely diminished. In fact, there are those that claim its use has resulted in measurable improvement in the reading standards of an average Australian child. Our research within schools in Perth suggest this as well
Nevertheless, Educators in the U.K. are pushing a reduced emphasis and less prescriptive approach of synthetic phonics. It is the belief that reading for pleasure remains the most effective way to elevate reading standards. This would partially resolve the long-standing problem of many children leaving primary education without the proper skill of reading. In any educational system, this would be grossly unacceptable, which is why synthetic phonics still has its own place to maintain especially when assisting dyslexic children.
According to Victor Lyons of the Reading Wise English Literacy Program, phonics can work well with the majority of children, but those that struggle with reading should have access to a wider range of psychological and educational support. We pride ourselves on providing psychologists, teachers, speech therapists that can support the diverse needs of children that learn differently.
As the application of phonic skills and knowledge becomes part of the Australian Curriculum, the real solution is allowing dyslexic children to cope by implementing targeted strategies that work in parallel to synthetic phonics.
At Focused Education we do not want to see the State Government of Perth, W.A. consider implementing a ‘one size fits all’ synthetic phonic approach.
Synthetic phonics tests the memory of the child rather than the skill. Teaching Perth schools more about how to help children with Dyslexia in a specialised, systematic way that includes Dyslexia Testing at an early age with follow-up targeted support is the right thing to do.
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