Published here with permission from The MOORE FOUNDATION

The Moore Foundation, Box 1, Camas, WA 98607

Phonics or Whole Language?
by Ellen Dana

Actually, we favor both! Your child has been hearing whole language from birth. He began responding to your commands as early as a few months old. We call this "receptive language."

Talking to your child ("How do you think that happened?" "I see a lesson in that flower. Can you?") encourages not only your child's expressive language, but his preparation for reading. From preschool age through those years ordinarily thought of as "early primary grades," you can encourage this part of whole language development by:

1. Reading to your child while letting him look at the words you are reading when he shows an interest.

2. Writing your child's "stories" in big print so he can "read" them back to you (when he is ready for that step!). Keep stories short and simple. Encourage him to tell about his interests and record the significant events in his life. Begin a journal when he first begins telling "stories." (Be sure to keep the best of these, at least. He will thank you when he is older and you will have a base for later reading experiences.)

3. Spending time at family worship or some other time each day reciting Bible verses as Biblical instruction. Consistent repetition of well chosen passages will become a part of your child's "repertoire" and something he can "read" sooner because he already knows the next word from memory. This is kind of a "back door" to reading, but nevertheless an important tool. Passages we suggest as important for this are I Cor., chapters 12 and 13, John 1:14, the Ten Commandments, Isa. 53, John 13:34, Psalm 46, selected promises from the Bible (your choices), and selected examples of His mercies (your choices). Use the Bible as much as possible for early reading experiences.

The Moore Academy encourages phonics instruction to help "break the code" of the English language. Make your preschooler aware of sounds represented by the symbols of our language, such as on cereal boxes, canned or packaged goods, or on street signs. Do not pressure a child who shows little interest. Much learning will happen incidentally in two- and three-minute "play" sessions with no stress to the child by an alert parent. Any indication of frustration or non-cooperation likely means the child is not ready for even this "light," informal instruction.

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