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Ideal Timeline for Teaching Literacy

Ideal Timeline for Teaching Literacy

By the end of third grade, a child should possess all the skills needed to read proficiently. The typical progression occurs over many years as a child obtains the various skills needed to read efficiently, ranging from recognizing a rhyme to applying the “fix-it” technique when encountering an unknown word. Milestones have been established for each grade to ensure a child’s success – becoming a proficient reader. In kindergarten, a child develops the foundational literary skills as a result much emphasis is placed on phonological awareness. Once this skill is mastered a child must quickly move onto the next. Therefore, in first grade a child works heavily on both phonics and word study. The table below show the elements to concentrate on for the learn to read grades which are kindergarten through third grade.

Phonological and Phonemic Awareness

Phonological awareness encompasses a general awareness of our spoken language; it is the ability to notice word features (e.g. rimes – ending sounds, onsets – initial sounds). Whereas, phonemic awareness refers to the ability to recognize and manipulate the sequence of sounds in a word. When learning to read, these oral skills are fundamental concepts that are introduced in kindergarten and first grade. Begin with activities that allow a child to

  • Make a distinction between sounds or phonemes (discriminating),
  • Work with the ending part of a word (rime),
  • Work with the initial sound of a word (onset) and
  • Hear the elements of a sentence or word (sentence and syllable segmenting).

Phonemes are the smallest unit of sound that represents one or more printed letters. The ability to hear phonemes is critical when learning to read and write. Practice the following three skills:

  • Separating a word into its individual sounds (segmenting),
  • Combining individual sounds together to make a word (blending) and
  • Playing with each sound in a word by adding, deleting or changing sounds (manipulating).

This awareness is an oral skill. However, linking the sounds to a letter or print should occur as soon as possible to progress to the next level.

Phonics and Word Study

Phonics and word study are two critical components when learning to read. In kindergarten, focus on basic concepts: print awareness, letter – sound knowledge and learning to automatically recognize common words. Introduce letters and sounds that allow a child to form VC and CVC words as opposed to introducing them in alphabetical order. In first grade, a child should be reading decodable text. Select reading material that contains those letter-sound associations as well as sight words that a child can recognize. The goal is for a child to attain automaticity, to quickly and accurately read words without hesitating.

Fluency

After a child successfully develops word recognition strategies, she should progress to fluency instruction. This typically occurs in the middle of 1st grade. A child must be able to automatically link words together to obtain the meaning of the text. Fluency instruction should occur daily for 20 minutes for grades first, second and third. Repeated reading, reading the same text again and again is a great way to improve fluency. To obtain fluency, a child must hear what it sounds like. The following are excellent exercises:

  • Reading with a model reader,
  • Choral reading,
  • Tape-recording readings,
  • Reading performances, and
  • Partner reading.

Vocabulary

Vocabulary refers to the knowledge of words and their meanings. A large vocabulary aids in understanding the text and provides clues for unknown words. As a result, instruction should begin in kindergarten and continue until third grade. The best way to increase a child’s vocabulary is reading age-appropriate material.

Comprehension

Comprehension is the goal of any reading instruction; it is the ability to understand both spoken and written language. Instruction should begin in kindergarten and continue until third grade. A child must possess a set of skills and strategies he can apply before, after and during reading to understand the text. This active process obtains meaning from text and relies on previous knowledge and experiences, visualizing, questioning, monitoring, making inferences and drawing conclusions.

Ideal Timeline for Teaching Literacy
Kindergarten and 1st Grade

Areas of Reading Instruction
Kindergarten
1st Grade
Phonological Awareness
  • Syllables
  • Onset/rimes
  • Phoneme level
  • Phonemic awareness
Phonics and
Word Study
  • Print awareness
  • Alphabetic knowledge
  • Alphabetic principle
  • Decoding
  • Irregular word reading
  • Alphabetic principle
  • Decoding
  • Irregular word reading
  • Decodable text reading
Fluency
  • Connected text (2nd semester)
Vocabulary
  • Oral vocabulary
  • Oral vocabulary
  • Reading vocabulary
Comprehension
  • Listening comprehension
  • Sense of story
  • Listening comprehension
  • Reading comprehension

Source: Adapted from Vaugh and Linan-Thompson (2004), pp 127.

Ideal Timeline for Teaching Literacy
2nd and 3rd Grade

Areas of Reading Instruction
2nd Grade
3rd Grade
Phonological Awareness
Phonics and
Word Study
Fluency
  • Connected text
  • Connected text
Vocabulary
  • Reading vocabulary
  • Reading vocabulary
Comprehension
  • Reading comprehension in narrative text
  • Reading comprehension in expository text
  • Reading comprehension in narrative text
  • Reading comprehension in expository text


Source: Adapted from Vaugh and Linan-Thompson (2004), pp 127.

The above timeline can assist you in keeping your child on track when
learning to read.

References

Rath, L.K., Ed.D & Kennedy, L. (2004). The Between the Lions Book for Parents. New York, NY: Harper Collins.

Vaugh, S & Linan-Thompson, S (2004). Research-Based Methods of Reading Instruction. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

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