New Light on Teaching Kids to Read

Educational Professor Bruce Candles joined Stanford Graduate School of Education to help bridge the gap between neuroscience and social issues like education. Through the use of imaging technologies, scientists can study the patterns established inside the brain during the learning process. These unique connections can better help researchers understand the way children learn, and how to strengthen those connections during activities occurring in the classroom. “We want to understand how educational experiences are driving changes in the brain, and to personalize that experience for different learners,” Bruce McCandliss said. 

“There is a profound relationship between the way a person’s brain is organized and how well that person masters abstract intellectual skills, such as reading or mathematics,” he said.

McCandliss along with colleagues from New York and Texas. believe that developing robust connections is vital for achieving reading proficiency. This is done by mastering the association between spoken words and their corresponding visual forms and moving from individual letters to letter clusters, onsets, rimes, and whole words. The ability to master letter clusters, onsets and rimes is an essential component in a learner’s decoding skill for reading as it develops specialized mapping in the brain that allows for rapid categorizing.

The study looked at 16 literate young adults who were taught symbols that represented words. Part of the words were remembered in their entirety, while others were learned in sections, each section representing a ‘letter’ sound. After 24 hours the group was tested on the words they memorized and those they learned phonetically. Those words learned by sounding them out showed more efficient brain mapping then those memorized.

This ability will further allow children to read unfamiliar words more efficiently and become independent readers.


Sources for phonics:

Lakeshore Learning

Hooked on Phonics


Phonics Kids