Early Reading Skills

Early reading skills are the foundation for strong reading ability later, in much the same way that a solid building foundation supports a skyscraper – the stronger the foundation, the higher the building.

The National Reading Panel developed a list of the early reading skills called “The 5 Pillars of Reading” after a two-year study of all the scientifically based reading research. Learn more about the importance of Early Literacy from our other resources on the subject.

Phonemic Awareness

Phonics Instruction

Fluency Instruction

Vocabulary Instruction

Comprehension Instruction

Early Childhood Vocabulary

Nearly everyone has heard very young children making sounds and trying to imitate spoken words, from their first coos and gurgles to milestone words like “Mama” or “Papa.”
In these earliest experiments with speaking and listening, we recognize that children are born with the ability to perceive and produce sounds that will eventually become words and then sentences.
This is the beginning of an emerging childhood vocabulary, an important foundation for language development and early reading skills.

Phonemic Awareness in Children

“One of the most compelling and well-established findings in the research on beginning reading is the important relationship between phonemic awareness and reading acquisition” (Kame’enui, et. al., 1997). Phonemic awareness is the first pillar of reading instruction because it is a critical pre-reading skill. Why? Because phonemic awareness in young children is the basis for word reading and comprehension and helps students learn to spell.

Teaching Phonics to Young Children

Reading research shows that phonics is an essential component of reading development and that “explicit and systematic phonics is superior to nonsystematic or no phonics” (Cunningham, 2002). Teaching phonics to emergent readers is important because it begins the transition from verbal language to print.

Fluency for Early Readers

Fluency is the ability to read text rapidly and accurately, either silently or aloud. Because fluency depends on the ability to decode words quickly, mastery of basic phonics skills is necessary for fluency development. Fluency for early readers is a task essential for establishing comprehension.

Early Reading Comprehension

Comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading and is the 5th pillar of reading instruction. Early reading comprehension means that emerging readers are able to decode the words and understand the meaning of the text. A common adage regarding reading instruction is that children learn to read until third grade and read to learn for the rest of their lives. Comprehension is the necessary reading skill that will allow students to access the curriculum and obtain information.