Teaching Children to Read

 Quote – US National Reading Panel

“In 1997, Congress asked the NICHD, through its Child Development and Behavior Branch, to work with the U.S. Department of Education (ED) in establishing a National Reading Panel that would evaluate existing research and evidence to find the best ways of teaching children to read.

The 14-member Panel included members from different backgrounds, including school administrators, working teachers, and scientists involved in reading research.

On April 13, 2000, the National Reading Panel concluded its work and submitted its final reports. The Panel has not been reconvened since that time and does not continue to work on this issue.

Topic Areas

Specifically, Congress asked the Panel to:

  • Review all the research available (more than 100,000 reading studies) on how children learn to read.
  • Determine the most effective evidence-based methods for teaching children to read.
  • Describe which methods of reading instruction are ready for use in the classroom and recommend ways of getting this information into schools.
  • Suggest a plan for additional research in reading development and instruction.

In addition, the National Reading Panel held public hearings where people could give their opinions on what topics the panel should study.

The Panel considered roughly 100,000 reading studies published since 1966, and another 10,000 published before that time. From this pool, the Panel selected several hundred studies for its review and analysis.

The National Reading Panel’s analysis made it clear that the best approach to reading instruction is one that incorporates:

  • Explicit instruction in phonemic awareness
  • Systematic phonics instruction
  • Methods to improve fluency
  • Ways to enhance comprehension

The Panel found that a combination of techniques is effective for teaching children to read:

  • Phonemic awareness—the knowledge that spoken words can be broken apart into smaller segments of sound known as phonemes. Children who are read to at home—especially material that rhymes—often develop the basis of phonemic awareness. Children who are not read to will probably need to be taught that words can be broken apart into smaller sounds.
  • Phonics—the knowledge that letters of the alphabet represent phonemes, and that these sounds are blended together to form written words. Readers who are skilled in phonics can sound out words they haven’t seen before, without first having to memorize them.
  • Fluency—the ability to recognize words easily, read with greater speed, accuracy, and expression, and to better understand what is read. Children gain fluency by practicing reading until the process becomes automatic; guided oral repeated reading is one approach to helping children become fluent readers.
  • Guided oral reading—reading out loud while getting guidance and feedback from skilled readers. The combination of practice and feedback promotes reading fluency.
  • Teaching vocabulary words—teaching new words, either as they appear in text, or by introducing new words separately. This type of instruction also aids reading ability.
  • Reading comprehension strategies—techniques for helping individuals to understand what they read. Such techniques involve having students summarize what they’ve read, to gain a better understanding of the material.”


Posted by Nicola in Learning Strategies, Parents, Teachers

Literacy Screening Tools

Within the free Flashcard Club there are Phonological Awareness one page “Quick Screeners” listed under the Word, Syllable, Onset/Rime and Phoneme levels as well as phonics flashcards. These are designed for teachers to quickly get an idea of where a child is at if they wish to start using a mastery learning folder to individualise their remediation.

If you are needing more in-depth tools, here are some useful links …

South Australian Spelling Test A pdf copy that provides teachers with an approximate guide to student spelling age.

Waddington Reading Test This is a link to the site to purchase this standardised reading test. Click on “Teaching Resources/Software” and your looking for Reading Spelling Tests 3rd Ed in the list on Page 5 (they don’t make it easy!)

Specific Level Assessment Tasks  pdf from NSW Dept. of Education & Communities which includes Educheck (Neal Phonemic Skills Screening Test), Johnson Basic Vocabulary, Sutherland Phonological Test and Phonological Awareness for Older Students

Phonological Awareness Skills Mapping (PASM)

Phonological Awareness Skills Test pdf from the University of Kansas for general and special education teachers

Year 1 Phonics Screening Check (UK) information and free sample (sign-up required) It consists of reading regular and nonsense phonetic words to determine phonics fluency in the context of whole words.

Burt Reading Test This is a pdf of a simple word recognition reading test that gives a standardised reading age.

Oxford University Press Phonics Check Support with multiple free samples (registration required)

The first three tests are useful for mapping individual or class phonological awareness skills. The tests indicate appropriate “pass” marks and therefore can be used to determine where each child is at. Teachers and parents can use this information to differentiate the learning according to individual and class needs. Some samples of flashcard style activities for different phonological awareness levels are found in the Flashcard Club under Foundation; English.

Mastery learning folders are designed to assist teachers with IEP students who need individualised remediation content. The strategy allows teachers to easily identify appropriate content, organise it in the folder and facilitate their students systematically mastering their individualised content. What teachers and parents are saying …


Posted by Nicola in Parents, Teachers

Folder Instructions

You’ll find below a short video designed for parents using Mastery Learning Folders with their child for the first time. It includes a brief introduction to the learning science foundation of the folder process and then provides a demonstration.

Find free supportive resources in the Flashcard Club

Posted by Nicola in Learning Strategies, Parents, Teachers