Examining pedagogies for teaching phonics: lessons from early childhood classrooms

Publication Name

Australian Educational Researcher


Australian early childhood education positions literacy learning as a set of social practices contextualised by one’s unique experiences and knowledges. Despite widespread agreement about the need to teach phonics and other code-breaking practices, the ways early childhood educators integrate “constrained” skills are not well understood outside the education profession. Current public discourse is generating ever-increasing pressure for the adoption of explicit teaching of phonics, however, teaching skills in isolation from reading and writing can be problematic, especially for marginalised learners. Challenges lie not only in learning to apply skills later but also in the impingement on time for more sophisticated concepts such as comprehension or vocabulary. This paper’s focus on pedagogies in early childhood educational settings prior to compulsory formal school sits within a larger project examining literacy demands for learners across school. In this paper, we argue for greater recognition of early childhood educators’ expertise in planning for and facilitating a diversity of practices that can address all learners’ needs.

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