Literacy Newsletter

Edition 2 December, 2015

Creating confident, compassionate, and successful readers, writers, speakers, and listeners.

Learning to read is a complex task for the very young child. A balanced instructional approach includes four main categories: (1) reading, (2) writing, (3) phonics/spelling/word study, and (4) speaking and listening. Young children are usually eager to enter the world of the literate. Concepts of print, phonemic awareness, and comprehension are skills that begin to develop early on in a young child's life with the help of their parents and caregivers. Setting students up for success in literacy during the primary grades relies heavily on the what happens before the child even enters the doors of a school. Expectations for students entering a grade level in September and leaving in June are well-known by educators. Instruction is grounded in these expectations and goals set for students to achieve expectations. Literacy learning progressions assist educators to guide instruction. Learning progressions can also assist parents and care-givers to know just what is expected of their child and to help gauge how learning is going.

What the Research Says

Why Is Word Recognition So Important?

"Growing up as a struggling reader can have devastating consequences. Nothing motivates students to read like knowing how to read. Nothing helps students learn to read like good instruction" (Vogt, MaryEllen). Often young readers that struggle have difficulty recognizing words. "As children become successful in word recognition, their vocabulary grows and their content knowledge becomes more sophisticated" (Cunningham & Stanovich, 1998).

"Students gain proficiency by applying a reliable, step-by-step strategy for recognizing familiar words and figuring out unfamiliar words (Chard & Osborn, 1999). Teachers specifically target this skill by teaching how to work through words that are unknown and new. Students practice recognizing high-frequency words, not only by reading, but through practice simply recalling words that are not able to be "sounded-out." Many high-frequency words are taught to be recognized on sight. Visitors to classrooms can often find these words in the early primary classrooms displayed on walls (i.e., a word wall) underneath the corresponding letter of the alphabet that begins with the letter of the word. Some students will come home with high-frequency words on rings or in flip-books to practice nightly with their parent or guardian. "The consequences of not being able to recognize words can be devastating. Cunningham and Stanovich (1998) argue that poor word readers do not find reading rewarding and, consequently, do not read enough to learn new words and practice familiar words. As a result they do not develop strong vocabularies and are not able to understand what they read, unlike students who read a lot (Stanovich, 1986).


Four prerequisites to help young children read well:

1. Recognize the purpose of print

2. Recognize the letters of the alphabet

3. Understand that print represents speech

4. Acquire phonemic awareness