As teachers and parents, we all have memories of moments when a child is reading with you, and when they have a question about a word, the only answer that you have is, "sound it out." Sound it out... what are you telling a child to do when you are telling them to do this?
This is a question that a cultural model has left us to not ask. We have grown up being told this and this is the same instruction that we are continuing to give to out students, even though it is not the most effective. Studies have shown that the strategy of sounding it out by using individual letters or chunks of recognizable sounds are not truly the strategies that children naturally use. As teachers fostering the minds of these young children, we want to keep them from making as many mistakes as possible in their journey to reading. Common struggles that readers fall into when instructed to "sound it out" are the following:
-Recognizing the first letter of a word and replacing it with a different word that starts with that same letter
-Taking the context of a story and replacing a word with a word that has similar meaning
-Using the incorrect structure of a word
-Replacing a word with one that looks similar but may have a few different letters
-Asking for help to solve an unknown word
-Using individual letter sounds to come up with a word's whole sound
-Using chunks of words to come up with a word's whole sound
These are struggles that we need to identify in chidren and can word to steer away from by coming up with new, more beneficial strategies to help them. We need to be innnovative and rethink, rephrase, and reconsider the methods we are using.