The Reading Skills Pyramid The Key Reading Skills & The Steps in Acquiring Them

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 learn that reading is not automatic and that, regardless of family background, children require support in learning to read and developing strong reading skills. Most adults forget that acquiring reading skills required skilled instruction.

A language-rich environment forms a solid foundation on which reading skills including decoding, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension are based. Mastery of decoding comprises understanding print concepts, phonemic awareness and phonics and is usually attained by the end of second grade. Some skills, such as vocabulary development, will grow as long as children are challenged by involvement in a rich language environment and by tackling increasingly complicated texts.

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 these skills by reading aloud, practicing nursery rhymes, and playing letter and word games. Tutoring or structured computer programs can also effectively reinforce these skills. Based on an understanding of phonemic (or phonological) awareness and basic print concepts, children are ready to learn phonics and to start decoding words.

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 awarenessphonics, comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency.

Time4Learning Reading Skills Pyramid

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