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Learn the phases of reading development to help your child read

Posted by Catherine Young Morris on

It has been a difficult couple of years for the teaching of reading, and many parents are wondering how they can best support their children as they learn to read and write. The good news is that we have been teaching reading for a long time and know quite a bit about how reading develops. Children move through five phases/stages of reading (and spelling) development as they become proficient readers.
1. pre-alphabetic
2. partial-alphabetic
3. full-alphabetic
4. consolidated alphabetic
Understanding what phase of reading and spelling development your child is at can be a helpful first step in supporting your child.  

The even better news is that the characteristics of the different phases of reading and spelling development can be readily recognized, even for the non-expert. While your child’s teacher will have a more detailed picture of the specific skills your child needs to learn, knowing your child’s phase of reading development will help you know what type of reading and spelling practice will be most helpful for them.

I’ve summarized key characteristics of each phase below for parents, along with how Practice Readers Books are intended to be used for children at each phase (View in PDF format). By learning about the phases of reading and spelling development, you can play an even more impactful role in supporting your child as they learn to read. 

You likely already have a good sense of your child’s phase of reading and spelling development. If you are unsure, you now know a few key things to look for when reading and writing with them. It’s worth mentioning that children will gradually progress through the phases, more so than suddenly leap from one phase to the next.  Just because children remember a letter sound relationship one day, doesn’t mean they will recognize it automatically another day (or even in the same book!).  That will take lots of practice!

Want to test yourself?  Take this short quiz to see if you can match these examples of student writing with their phase of development. https://forms.gle/Las1nc3u5BTEoXS98