Do Phonics Reading Programs Work for Good Readers?

Reading Horizons has phonics reading programs that are designed and extremely effective for helping struggling readers, but what about good readers? This is a question that has been asked and should be addressed.

Those who do not have language-processing issues such as dyslexia and those who seem to be able to break the reading code do so automatically. Automatic readers are able to break down words and recognize individual phonemes and word patterns. If you asked them, however, why a word says what it does, most would be unable to give you an answer. They might respond with, "It just does" or "I don't know how I know, but I just know that it says that." They seem to transfer this knowledge to most new words automatically but truly do not have a grasp on the why. To have an understanding of the code of our language and to be able to decode any word and understand why it says what it does is a valuable skill for anyone. If someone chooses to go into a field such as medicine, where there seems to be an entirely new language of medical terms, these types of skills become invaluable.

Secondly, it is common to find people who are great readers but poor spellers. Why is that? First, spelling involves several processes: It is a mirror process of reading — we blend the sounds when we read, and we should be segmenting the sounds to spell. When we spell, we actually decode (break words into phonemes) and encode (put or blend phonemes together to create the word) in order to get the correct answer. Second, many of us, when trying to spell a word, do not have any real strategies to apply, and we do not have a strong-enough understanding of phonics to help us. Most of us just write the word the best we can and see if it "looks" right. That involves visual memory-specific to graphemes dealing with reading–and most of us are unable to store in our memories the spelling for every word we would like to use. The "visual memory" problems of poor spellers are specific to memory for letters and words, so a better term for poor spelling is orthographic memory problem. A person may be a very poor speller but a very good artist, navigator, or mechanic; those professions require a different kind of visual memory.

Most important to understand is that spelling problems, like reading problems, originate with language-learning weaknesses. Spelling disability does not reflect a general "visual memory" problem but a more-specific problem with awareness of and memory for language structure, including the letters in words. People who are poor spellers typically have trouble analyzing the sounds, syllables, and meaningful parts of words in both spoken and written language. In addition, they often have trouble learning other types of symbolic codes, such as math facts and math operation signs.

(Information taken from "Just the Facts" provided by the International Dyslexia Association, at

These phonics reading programs can benefit any type of reader, giving them the skills to understand the why and giving them proven reading strategies to apply to unfamiliar words when reading and/or spelling. It gives them effective skills to apply rather than letting them rely on visual memory or just seeing if it "looks" right. This program also builds vocabulary through context usage of all of the words, which is the vital component for reading comprehension. These phonics reading program is a relevant foundation for anyone.

View the Online Workshop to see why our phonics reading programs are the perfect solution for reading development.