A new study published in Learning and Instruction suggests that even young children may benefit from being taught not only phonics, but also how English is constructed. The researchers developed a “novel intervention” that taught aspects of the English language such as morphology, etymology, and rules about form. They then randomly assigned 120 5-7 year-olds to either receive phonics then the novel intervention, or the novel intervention then phonics. The novel intervention significantly improved the literacy skills of the children, including both word reading and spelling, compared with the phonics condition. The researchers argue that these results show that children can be taught more about the English language from the start of their formal literacy instruction.
Source: Spelling and Reading Development: The Effect of Teaching Children Multiple Levels of Representation in their Orthography (2013), Learning and Instruction, 25.