In my work with children that has spanned many decades, I regularly see youngsters who dutifully do what phonics and whole language say they should do, but whose reading and writing are plagued by problems. The following are just a few of the difficulties:
* There are children who, just as they are told, carefully sound out words. Then when they see the same words in another line, they repeat the sounding out process. It is as if word recognition-which is the essence of effective reading-does not exist.
* There are children who are able to read many words but who do not seem to master the “little” words that are the most frequent words of the language-words like is, there, was, what .
* There are children who do well in reading lists of isolated words (such as those in “word families” like fan, pan, man, ran but who struggle when they have to read books where the variations from word to word are considerable. Their training on isolated words does not prepare them for real reading.
* There are children who can decode words, but whose writing of the same words is laden with error. And despite the repeated claim that their spelling will improve with time, it fails to do so.
* There are children who read stories, but who are stymied when asked to relate what they have read. The message of the text escapes them .