What is Structured Literacy?

This week, with her permission, on our social media posts we shared Nancy Young’s ladder of reading (www.NancyYoung.ca).  It indicates that all readers will benefit from a structured literacy approach, especially those that are at risk of having difficulty acquiring literacy.   So what is structured literacy and why do we promote this approach in our centre?

Simply put structured literacy is explicit, systematic teaching that focuses on phonological awareness, word recognition, phonics and decoding, spelling, morphology (word structure) and syntax (sentence structure).  It is really, the knowledge that all teachers should have to address reading for all students.  Structured literacy is an evidence based approach focused on the knowledge of all of these skills and directly teaching how language related to reading to students.  This approach is recommended in the research especially for students with learning difficulties such as dyslexia.  It creates a strong foundation to allow all learners to access print,

Many students struggle to acquire reading, unfortunately popular reading approaches such as Guided reading or Balanced Literacy are not effective for struggling readers.  Research has clearly shown they don’t focus on many of the skills these students need to succeed.  Struggling readers need direct instruction in how each part of language relates back to reading in order to break the code. Structured literacy however, has been shown to be effective for not only struggling readers, but all readers.  Reading is NOT NATURAL.  It is a taught skill and if teaching is not effective reading will not be acquired appropriately and many children will continue to struggle unnecessarily.

As speech language pathologists we focus all of our training on many of these language elements and how they relate to reading.  It’s why we support and encourage the use of this approach for our struggling readers.  We know that applying systematic (follows the order of language development) and explicit (deliberate teaching of all concepts) instruction in all of these areas will continue to provide growth for our readers and writers at all levels.  We are so excited this month to highlight literacy and how using the science to guide our teaching will ensure all readers have access to learning that meet their needs.  Our therapists and our tutor will guide your child through all of the levels and teach the skills that your child needs to learn to become a successful reader.