Science of Reading

If you recently attended your child’s Back to School event or parent meeting, you might have heard the words, “Science of Reading.” This methodology for teaching reading is not new, however, it is gaining popularity in schools particularly with young learners. So if you’re not familiar, read on to learn about the basics.

What is Science of Reading?

Science of Reading is a teaching methodology that relies on systematic and explicit instruction on “how to read,” including phonics and phonemic awareness. It’s most commonly depicted as Scarborough’s Reading Rope and implies that children should be taught the decoding of learning to read by learning the rules of the English Language paired with comprehension and vocabulary strategies. Science of Reading is a methodology and not a curriculum but it is often delivered to children through curriculum like “Into Reading” or “Fundations.”

How do I know if my school “does” Science of Reading?

The best way to know what your child is learning at school is to ask your child’s teacher. However, if you are looking for discreet signs that your school is deploying Science of Reading backed techniques, you should look for: explicit instruction of letters and the sounds they make, your child deploying strategies to break up words and then blend them together, and solid reading practice.

Prior to Science of Reading, many schools used a Balanced Literacy approach. This means they exposed children to lots of types of literature and read books at the “right” level but they did not teach specific skills with intention. It might be worth asking your school if they prefer Science of Reading or Balanced Literacy.

Does Science of Reading matter?

Studies show as many as 20% of children have a form of dyslexia and struggle to learn to read.  Without explicit instruction and significant practice, these children and others will experience significant difficulty trying to learn to read.  They may never actually reach their full potential in literacy. So, yes, Science of Reading matters.

Where does Science of Reading come from?

Science of Reading originated from a lot of brain research about how children learn generally. From those studies, additional research found specific information about the building blocks for learning to read. Unlike speaking or walking, learning to read is not a natural process for humans. It’s a skill that requires explicit instruction, and a lot of practice to achieve mastery.

What if my child needs more help?

In addition to explicit instruction, Science of Reading experts indicate that many students need more practice reading. They need more “at bats” with reading so they can map new words, learn to blend and identify patterns.  As a parent, you can help by reading with your child and letting them do the hard work of reading aloud. If you struggle for time, sign your child up for an app like Amira & The Story Craft.  It asks your child to read out loud and offers Science of Reading interventions to help them improve if they need support. This app is great for independent use, or can be used as a shared activity.

How Can I learn more about the Science of Reading?

There are many great resources around Science of Reading online. You can also check out our Science of Reading series which goes into the five essential pillars of Science of Reading:

  1. Phonemic Awareness
  2. Phonics
  3. Vocabulary
  4. Oral Reading Fluency
  5. Comprehension