Today, what’s called “structured literacy” is instead being promoted by experts in fields like linguistics and neuroscience as an effective way to teach all students, beginning in kindergarten, and as a must for struggling readers.
In structured literacy, phonemic awareness (that is, working with the sounds of spoken words) is developed as a pre-reading skill, and phonics is taught explicitly and systematically, with much less focus on memorization of sight words and using clues other than the letters themselves to figure out the words when reading. This is done alongside developing vocabulary and language comprehension—both very important aspects in learning to read.
While the term “structured literacy” was new to me, the components certainly made sense, especially the more I found out about how the brain learns to read. In fact, it was a relief to understand why reading wasn’t clicking for some of my students—and to have concrete steps to follow to help ensure better results moving forward.