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Why am I being asked to teach 'rhyme' as part of my phonics instruction?




A teacher in my Orthographic Mapping support group recently asked a question about rhyming in her reception class. I started by asking why she was teaching it ie what was the purpose? Many seem to think it's an essential skill children need to have in order to learn to read and spell. Rhyming is one of the skills under the umbrella of phonological awareness, of which only phonemic awareness is a deal breaker. I've talked about that to death so won't now, but I often think that those who believe there is a hierarchy that leads to phonemic awareness will teach rhyming along with onset and rime and syllable division as they have been led to believe that is how children will get there. Again, have talked about this to death in the past...I won't go over it again here. I start at the phoneme level. I tend to send video messages as this kind of stuff can be difficult to explain in writing:-) As you can see I don't plan them out I just talk off the cuff lol.

In the SoR nutshell though, the National Early Literacy Panel (2008) was able to meta-analyze it, based on the available studies, and concluded that:

Rhyming ability is predictive of later reading achievement, but it had the weakest correlation of any of the phonological awareness skills. Being able to segment words into single phonemes or to blend phonemes together into words, were significantly better predictors of decoding. (There were no significant differences in these predictors regarding later reading comprehension growth).

With regard to the teaching of PA, it was concluded that there were few instructional interventions that used rhyming activities as a primary teaching approach, but that the teaching of letters and sounds had a significant impact on student learning.

‘I would not put a lot of emphasis on the teaching of rhyme. It sounds to me like your teachers are approaching this appropriately and the policy is, perhaps unintentionally, steering them in the wrong direction.’

Timothy Shanahan.

https://www.readingrockets.org/blogs/shanahan-on-literacy/rhyming-ability-important-reading


Do I 'teach children to rhyme? That all depends on your definition of 'teaching'. They do learn to rhyme:-) Children who develop great phonemic awareness skills can segment words into any sound units requested, and also rhyme. The PA activities help develop rhyming skills. So yes, the children are LEARNING to rhyme every day! I also include 'Silly Rhyme Time' sessions as often as possible.

I rhyme all the time because it's fun; kids learn far more when they are having fun. Me too!


I teach children to read before they start school, generally as part of an early intervention (to ensure that they don't become instructional casualties) How could I do that without reading rhyming books to and with children.

So why are you being asked to teach rhyme as part of your phonics instruction? Probably not for the same reasons I do it. My priority is the mapping of phonemes to graphemes, and learning to read for pleasure. Rhyming is a natural by-product, and not the goal. What do you think? Miss Emma AKA The Reading Whisperer ICanReadWithoutYou.com

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