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5 Must Haves in Your Reading Instruction

Effective reading instruction is most effectively implemented when you have a comprehensive reading program that has an organized sequence of lessons in which specific skills are taught so that teachers and parents don’t have to make it up as they go. Here are '5 Must Haves' for any reading instruction whether at home or in a classroom.

The reality is that recognizing words on a page is only one part of the reading process. There are actually many skills that are being utilized simultaneously in the reading process. These critical skills include phonemic awareness, phonics, reading fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. A comprehensive reading program will build each one of these skills so that they can work together like a philharmonic orchestra during the reading process.

Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness is the ability to identify and manipulate individual sounds (phonemes) in spoken words. It is entirely based on the sounds in a word. In Early Readers Academy we have children listen and produce the individual sounds in the context of a word to master phonemic awareness. They will orally blend phonemes together. (c-a-t is cat) and orally segmenting words into phonemes (cat is c-a-t). An enormous number of studies cite the correlation between phonemic awareness and reading difficulties.


“There is a clear consensus and abundant evidence that in alphabetic languages, phonological decoding is at the core of learning to read words.” Professor Kate Nation, University of Oxford

Written words are a code for spoken words. To read words, children need to learn the code. Phonics is the relationship between graphemes (letters and groups of letters) and phonemes (speech sounds). It is based on teaching letter to sound correspondence. Eventually the children will look at the word, say the sound for each letter and then blend them to make the word. It is essential for sounding out (decoding) words and spelling.


Reading fluency is the ability to read accurately, smoothly and with expression. Fluent readers are able to focus on reading for meaning rather than having to concentrate on working out the words.

‘Oral reading fluency’ refers to reading passages aloud. Fluent readers are able to read a passage on the first try with a smooth rhythm, few errors or self-corrections, appropriate changes in volume and pitch, and grammatically appropriate pauses. Children will develop fluency with lots of practice and guidance. Choral reading, gives students an opportunity to practice and follow the teacher or parent who serve as a model, as they read along.


Another important component of a reading program is vocabulary development. Sounding out words is not enough. The children must understand the meaning of the words in order to grasp what they are reading. Vocabulary is taught in two ways: explicitly and implicitly. At Early Readers Academy we use word lists and give explicit instruction on the meaning and use of the words we are learning. Implicit learning occurs when children are reading and are able to determine the meanings of words using the context clues from pictures or the surrounding words in the same sentence or paragraph.

All too often we assume children understand the meaning of words yet when we ask them they often have no or limited understanding. Discussions on vocabulary are essential in the home and at school. Introducing children to new and sophisticated words in our everyday conversation and then explaining those words makes a tremendous difference in their vocabulary development. This young man was surprised when I told him the meaning and demonstration of the word 'frown!' Apparently he has never seen me frown and thought I looked scary! Lol


Comprehension is the end goal of the other four components to reading but also involves some additional skills and abilities.

Comprehension is the ability to understand what’s being read. A child who can decode words, understand their meaning and read fluently will be able to comprehend a story. Comprehension also involves working memory, which is being able to hold onto information that they have read to make sense of the rest of the reading selection. At Early Readers Aacademy we are always considering the meaning of words in explicit instruction and using it in the context of a sentence. Comprehension can be broken down into many separate components that we can address for remediation purposes. The readers will need to understand the characters, the setting, the plot of the story and be able to predict, summarize and use critical thinking skills to link ideas together.

Early Readers Academy incorporates phonemic awareness, phonics, reading fluency, vocabulary and comprehension into every module of our program. We successfully set children up so that they can skillfully and seamlessly integrate all of these skills when reading so that they can be strong, confident readers who find joy in reading!

Learn phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension with our complete comprehensive reading system Level 1 and Level 2. Early Readers Academy integrates multiple reading skills for accelerated growth to achieve their highest learning potential!

Come along and experience reading success like never before!

Mary Printz aka Miss Mary is the co-founder of Early Readers Academy and Accelerated Potential Academy. She is a seasoned educational consultant, researcher, Reading Consultant and Developer and International speaker. You can contact her at

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