Which one is better: Science of Reading vs. Balanced Literacy

Aug 02, 2022

by Aja McNair


The latest great debate in education right now is which is better, The Science of Reading or Balanced Literacy? So many teachers are torn between choosing and where to start. 

Let's start with getting an understanding of the meaning of both terms and then decide which way to go.


What is Science of Reading? 

This approach studies how the brain learns to read. Because you understand how the brain works, you are able to cater and differentiate lessons to meet the needs of children. Here, students are given a set of rules and patterns to follow as they decode and break down word parts and also letters. This allows them to decode unknown words and understand the meaning of words solely based on the meaning of the word's word parts.


What is Balanced Literacy? 

In this approach, we find the connection between teaching all 5 pillars of reading and writing. The reading workshop is designed to get children to fall in love with reading and become good readers. Children are able to read at their independent level, their instructional level, and their grade level. In this approach to reading, children are equipped with strategies to decode words and comprehend text at each level. In Balanced Literacy, they understand the big idea of the story.  What does the story mean? And what do good readers do in order to comprehend a text.


Which one is better: Science of Reading vs. Balanced Literacy 

They both play a major role. They each touch on the 5 pillars of reading which are phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.

In essence, they've both been proven to be valuable. Is one better than the other?


There's space for both in the classroom, I believe we can benefit from both. Why do we have to choose?

...especially when you can do both at the same time.




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