Is phonics instruction the best way to teach a child to read?'s Teacher Poll of the Week
Is phonics instruction the best way to teach a child to read?
I am not sure.

View Results

The majority of teachers believe that phonics is the best way to teach a child to read. The number of "yes" votes outstripped the runner up by a margin of 3 to 1. Teaching reading skills by using phonetics that long been thought to be the most effective way. The English language is, however, fraught with so many exceptions to phonetic rules that it makes learning difficult. "Tough" and "enough" are simple to read once the letter sounds are explained, but then show a new reader the words "bough" or "slough" and the confusion begins.

Given these difficulties perhaps it is not surprising that there was a significant contingent of teachers who indicated that they were unsure whether phonics instruction was the best way to teach a child to read. In fact the group that voted "I am not sure" outnumbered those who voted "No". If the "unsure" group had chosen a side then that would have made a huge difference in the results of this poll. The positive results would have been significantly overwhelming or far less of a majority depending on how the vote swung.

For teachers who are convinced that phonics is not the best method, one has to wonder what method they use. Are they mandated to teach the curriculum according to set standards, meaning that phonics is used universally or are they free to teach reading by whatever method they deem best? Certainly due to the different student learning styles a variety of methods may be needed in order to help each student achieve competent reading standards.

Knowing that each student approaches reading from a slightly different perspective, one can extrapolate that individual teachers would do the same. This would account for the fact that all teachers aren't on the same page with regard to phonics, and why some teachers don't know whether the program works or not.

Whatever program teachers use to teach reading, it is the outcome that matters most. Literacy is vitally important to future success in almost all areas of life and with the modern education system children are being given a better chance than ever to succeed.