Why Balanced Literacy Is the Best Approach to Reading

A teacher putting into practice why balanced literacy is the best approach to reading with a young female student in the classroom.

How teachers instruct their students is just as important as what they teach. Balanced literacy allows teachers to use a variety of teaching methods in their reading instruction.

No doubt, teaching is a challenging job. Teachers are responsible for raising competent and literate children.


Why Balanced Literacy Is the Best Approach to Reading 

However, educators, administrators, and parents must balance the old methods of teaching reading and the information gained from experience and research on new reading strategies. 

Want One-On-One Expert Help?!


Find A Tutor TODAY!

Using balanced literacy includes various reading techniques and will enable students to move from easy to more challenging material. 


What is the Basic Approach to Literacy? 

Generally, when teaching literacy, the basic approach is either phonics-based or whole language. These reading approaches reflect two very different philosophies. Therefore, they require them to learn very different skills. 


What is a Whole Language Approach to Reading? 

In the whole language classroom, children read simple and repetitive text. Usually, the children are already familiar with the text, which makes it much easier to understand. 

The whole language approach emphasizes comprehension rather than reading accuracy. The primary goal is for children to foster a love of reading and become proficient by reading more. 

What is a Phonics Based Approach to Literacy?

In a phonics classroom, the students learn rules for reading. They learn words and parts of words in isolation. The primary goal is for children to read words accurately. 


The Literacy Debate

Interestingly, there has been much debate about how to create literate children. Teachers often wonder which approach is the best to teach children to read. 

Both sides have their cons. Some people believe that the look-say approach with whole language reading is not suitable for teaching children to read. However, teachers did not like all the worksheets that often come along with the phonics approach. 

Researchers have been looking for a balanced approach to reading to end the debate that has been going on for decades. 


What is a Balanced Literacy Approach?


Today many teachers would not consider themselves an advocate for either approach. Most importantly, no teacher will find one perfect way to teach reading. 

Instead, they tend to teach a balanced literacy approach in their reading instruction. A balance between the methods that work is necessary and desirable.  

Interestingly, an issue of creating a balanced literacy approach is the uncertainty of what that means. The problem is that most people perceive a “balanced” approach in different ways.

For some, this means taking parts of the phonics method and parts of the whole language method. However, what teachers or districts choose to use is entirely up to them. 

Additional Resources for Teaching Reading

The balanced literacy approach seems to be the best approach to reading. But with any method, the teacher must see what works best for their group of students. 

Unfortunately, one approach will not work for every student. So the concept must be for teachers to find a balance between the approaches and what their students need. 

One way to do that is to have small group instruction that can also work with your child one on one. We offer just that with our Online Book Club! We provide the book, and the instruction is individualized to your child’s needs.

Have you used a balanced literacy approach in your classroom? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments below. 


Here are a few other posts that may give you more ideas for helping your students:



Click here for weekly tips and techniques from a fellow Special Educator and parent of a special needs child.

Do you have a student that needs one-on-one special education tutoring that can be done from anywhere? Our special education experts conduct their sessions online! Get them started with a free consultation!



A teacher putting into practice why balanced literacy is the best approach to reading with a young female student in the classroom.
Phonics vs Whole Language has been the debate for many years. Read why a balanced literacy Is the best approach to reading.

Picture of Laura Young, M.Ed.

Laura Young, M.Ed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

blog form headline-2 special ed resources