Do I need to teach a hyperlexic child phonics?

Illustration of Owls
Children with hyperlexia need more support with their comprehension than they do for their reading skills.

If a child can already read when they start school, do you need to teach them phonics for the next two or three years? How do you juggle the varying class needs as a teacher? Whether in special needs or in mainstream, there is little current information on how best to teach a child who can already read when they start school. Particularly if, as in hyperlexia, many children lack the comprehension to go with it.

The first thing to be aware of is that a child with hyperlexia is likely to be learning differently. It may be a good idea to check their comprehension and understanding. 

In addition, if there are other difficulties such as language delay, then being able to read easily could assist with some of the other demands. For example if they have a receptive language delay, then writing out an instruction could aid communication.

If a child in your class reads well to an unusual degree but has a statement of special educational needs, this could be usefully discussed as part of their individual plan or EHCP (Education and Health Care Plan). Many plans do not include hyperlexia, if that term is known. It is not a formal diagnosis, but a trait which not all professionals are aware of. Identifying possible hyperlexia can be important because of what it shows about the child’s learning style. If they have problems with comprehension, then if possible the time spent on learning to read could instead be spent helping their understanding.

Information.  See references here.  Date created: 6/5/2021     Date reviewed: 6/5/2022

Skip to content