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Reading Skills Pyramid

Reading Skills Pyramid
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Learning to read is an exciting time for children and their families. While thrilled by their children’s emerging literacy and reading skills, many parents are surprised to find that reading is not automatic and that, regardless of family background, children require support in learning to read and developing strong reading skills.

Parents should be highly involved in every step of the reading pyramid by:

  • Providing high quality educational materials
  • Establishing a pattern of daily reading
  • Creating a rich language environment
  • Discussing your child’s progress with teachers and following up on their recommendations

The Reading Skills Pyramid

The Reading Skills Pyramid visually depicts the patterns of concept acquisition that children follow in becoming successful readers up through third grade. We recommend a high level of parent involvement in this process by providing high quality educational materials, establishing a pattern of daily reading, creating a rich language environment, and discussing your child’s progress with teachers and following up on their recommendations. While most children follow the same sequence of acquiring literacy skills, they do so at their own pace. All children are different: if you have questions or concerns about your child’s progress in reading, contact his or her teacher.

The “What Works?” Report found that the five key areas in learning to read are phonemic awareness, phonics, comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency.

Develop phonemic awareness and letter-sounds

Research shows that children who develop phonemic awareness and letter-sound knowledge early on are more likely to be strong, successful readers. Children build this first skill of the reading pyramid by reading aloud, practicing nursery rhymes, and playing letter and word games. Tutoring or structured computer programs can also effectively reinforce these skills. Learn more on our Phonemic Awareness page.

Developing Phonics Skills

Although reading skill acquisition isn’t always sequential, there is a basic order in which the components of reading are usually taught. A learner must first have the ability to think and work with individual sounds (phonemes) and recognize the relationship between letters and their sounds (graphemes) to then learn how to decode words (phonics). Learn more on our Phonics Curriculum page.

Reading Fluency – Automatic Decoding

The third component of the reading skills pyramid and the bridge between foundational reading and higher-level reading is reading fluency. Effective reading instruction in the foundational reading components will prepare fluent readers for vocabulary acquisition and comprehension. Read more on our Reading Fluency page.

Building Vocabulary

True comprehension of what is being read cannot happen without the component of vocabulary knowledge. Vocabulary support should involve meaningful context where children can connect unfamiliar words with words they have already mastered. Explicit instruction in vocabulary has shown to have remarkable benefits for young readers. Discover more on our Vocabulary Development page.

Reading Comprehension, understanding what you read

Understanding what is being read is at the heart of reading success. Comprehension strategies provide readers with the tools to turn text into information they can use. Although it is a complex skill, it is a vital one that they will apply to almost every area of their future school career as well as throughout their life and career. Find out more on our Reading Comprehension page.

Each of these skills is usually gained sequentially as shown in the reading pyramid, with the later skills building on the earlier one. Early on, the acquisition of reading skills begins with hearing books and stories read aloud, practicing nursery rhymes, and playing letter and word games. Structured computer programs, such as Time4Learning, can also reinforce early reading skills. Once these are mastered, children are ready to learn phonics and to start decoding words.

Additional Reading Resources

PreK - 8th

$19.95$24.95
  • Monthly First Student
  • $14.95/month for each additional student

9th - 12th

$30.00$34.95
  • Monthly Per Student
  • Includes 4 courses

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