The Reading Skills Pyramid

All parents want their children to become effective readers.

But, when these parents attempt to educate themselves about reading, they tend to find two types of literature, neither of which are of much use to them.

There are the "rah rah" articles which lecture parents to fill their house full of books and to take 20 minutes/day to read with their children. While this is good advice, it is not a panacea nor does it provide any insight into the process. On the other hand, there are academic papers full of jargon and complex debates about the process of learning to read. The "rah rah" articles over-simplify; the academics over-complicate.
What has been lacking has been information for parents which simply summarizes the current thinking on teaching reading and helps parent understand what the expectations are at each level of education.
So, allow me to introduce the Reading Skills Pyramid, Version 1.0.
The Reading Skills Pyramid illustrates a typical sequence for acquiring reading skills for use by parents for homeschools and enrichment. The reading skills are organized using the NCLB (No Child Left Behind) system. The "What Works?" Report found that the five key areas in learning to read are phonemic awareness, phonics, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and reading fluency.

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The Reading Skills Pyramid

Key skills and dependencies

Learning to read is an exciting time for children and their families. While thrilled by their children's emerging literacy 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. Recent advances in research document some methodologies that work in most cases.

Two critical pre-reading areas to focus on are creating a language-rich environment and developing phonemic awareness.

A language-rich environment forms a solid foundation
on which interest in reading and some skills such as fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension are based. As part of day to day level, the conversation around and involving your children should develop word awareness and verbal comprehension.

Phonemic awareness (and his sibling, phonological awareness) is the critial pre-phonics skill. Children must become aware that words are made up sounds that get combined like interchangable parts to form new words. (Also, they should learn to distinguish the sounds which is the heart of phonological awareness). 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 reading to learn phonics.

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.

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Copyright 2004. All rights reserved. Users may make copies so long as this copyright notice remains visible. Version IIIb

This Reading Skills Pyramid illustrates the analysis of skills and grade level targets determined by the U.S. Department of Education. Curriculum differs from state to state and many children will develop faster than these targets These norms represent average levels of reading achievement.

Learning First Alliance ; U.S. Department of Education; WETA, Washington , D.C.

Armbruster, B.B, Lehr, F., & Osborn, J. (2002) A Child Becomes a Reader: Proven Ideas for Parents from Research -- Birth to Preschool & Kindergarten through Grade Three. (2001) Put Reading First: The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read Washington , DC : National Institute for Literacy.

Burns, M.S., Griffin , P. & Snow, C. E. (eds.). (1999). Starting Out Right: A Guide to Promoting Children's Reading Success . Washington , DC : National Academy Press.

National Reading Panel. (2000). Teaching Children to Read: An Evidence-Based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on reading and Its Implications for Reading Instruction. Washington , DC : National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Interesting Links for Reading Skills & Issues
SEDLÃÂ- Online Library of Cutting EdgeÃÂReading Research
Putting Reading First - Introduction A government sponsored study on Reading
Phonemic awareness instruction
Phonics instruction
Fluency instruction
Vocabulary instruction
Text comprehension instruction
A government sponsored study on Reading A government sponsored study on Reading A government sponsored study on Reading. A government sponsored study on Reading - A government sponsored study on Reading. Time4Learning sponsors this site as a public education effort. Time4Learning provides interactive online curriculum for home education for either homeschooling or enrichment. Time4Learning is an advertisement-free online service providing preschool through 8rd grade curriculum, great games for kids, and progress reports for parents. Children like the lessons, they love the playground. Parents love the convenience and effectiveness. Listen to what other parents are saying in their home school curriculum reviews.