Seed getting planted in the soil beneath the grass

Skilled reading begins with the seed of reading readiness

When we read aloud to students, they develop oral language skills, familiarity with how to hold a book, an understanding that words on the page have meaning and a desire to learn to read!

A lost desire to learn to read can be revived.

You can help students by:

Planted seed sprouting one root.

Essential Skill 1: Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness is the most foundational skill of reading. It is like the first root that grows out from a seed. Before beginning phonics instruction, students will benefit from developing a kinesthetic awareness of sounds and learning how to blend and segment words from an auditory prompt. They will need these skills to apply the phonics rules.

Learn More About Phonemic Awareness »

Planted seed sprouting two roots.

Essential Skill 2: Systematic Phonics

Healthy trees have deep and sprawling root systems. Likewise, strong readers have a deep and accurate knowledge of the phonetic system that accurately explains 98% of English words. Systematic phonics help students understand that:

  • English has a phonetic code that is complex yet consistent.
  • The 45 sounds of English are written using 75 phonograms.
  • Thirty-one spelling rules further explain how these spellings are used in English words.

As students learn the phonograms, their phonemic awareness skills will also continue to grow.

Learn More About Systematic Phonics »

PROBLEM: Many people think English is riddled with exceptions!

SOLUTION: Teach the tools that explain 98% of English words!

Seed sprouting upwards, growing a single leaf.

Essential Skill 3: Fluency

Fluency is the mastery of the skills of phonemic awareness and systematic phonics to the point of automaticity. Fluency is like the trunk of a tree, which is the pathway for transporting nutrients. Once the student has been taught phonics rules, the brain self-teaches fluency(1) as the student decodes! Fluent readers have developed efficient neuropathways between the different regions of the brain correlated with skilled reading. As the pathways develop, fluent readers are able to increasingly focus on comprehending the text.

Seed sprouting upwards, growing multiple leaves.

Essential Skill 4: Vocabulary

Like the parts of a tree, each of the skills are related. As students read, they grow their vocabularies. Students can speed up this process by learning how to identify morphemes, which are units of meaning within words.

  • Morphemes provide clues to the meaning of unfamiliar words.
  • Ninety percent of multisyllabic words include a Latin root(2). Knowing the meaning of common Latin roots aids in comprehension.
Sprouted seed maturing into a tree with books beginning to stem from the branches amongst the leaves.

Essential Skill 5: Comprehension Skills

Comprehension skills such as identifying the main idea, making inferences and comparing and contrasting are like the branches of a tree, supported by a healthy trunk and healthy roots.

  • While students work on foundational skills, comprehension skills can be developed by listening to audiobooks.
  • Students with strong phonemic awareness and systematic phonics skills will be able to read and comprehend at the same level at which they can listen and comprehend.

Explore Our Curriculum That Teaches the Five Essential Skills of Reading »

Strong root skills of phonemic awareness, systematic phonics and vocabulary will result in the flourishing of the entire tree!

Phonemic Awareness | Systematic Phonics | Fluency | Vocabulary | Comprehension

Cited Sources

(1) Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies. “Lecture by Dr. Stanislas Dehaene on ‘Reading the Brain.’” April 30, 2013.

(2) Rasinski, Timothy, Nancy Padak, Rick M. Newton, and Evangeline Newton. Greek and Latin Roots: Keys to Building Vocabulary. Teacher Created Materials, 2008.