Stages of Reading

25 Jan

Developmental Reading Stages

Stage 1: Initial Reading or Decoding Stage (Ages 6–7)

At this stage, your daughter develops an understanding that letters and letter combinations represent sounds. She uses this knowledge to blend together the sounds of phonetically consistent words such as “cat” or “hop.” Even though you daughter understands that individual letters represent discrete sounds, she may still find it difficult to segment sounds in an orally presented sound. For example, if you say /cat/, your daughter may have difficulty segmenting that word into the discrete sounds of /c/ /a/ /t/. In addition, she may also have difficulty blending the individual sounds. Both of these skills are prerequisites for the decoding process. As such, decoding is the process by which a word is broken into individual phonemes and blended back together to create a word. Your daughter may reach each of these stages at a later-than-typical age. Keep in mind that your child will need to move through each stage at her own pace.

Stage 2: Confirmation, Fluency, Ungluing From Print (Ages 7–8)

As you daughter begins to develop fluency and additional strategies to gain meaning from print, she is ready to read without sounding everything out. She will begin to recognize whole words by their visual appearance and letter sequence (orthographic knowledge). She will start recognizing familiar patterns and hopefully reach automaticity in word recognition.

Your daughter will need extra repetitions to develop the strategies that lead to fluency. Because your daughter’s ability to recognize whole words may be hampered by auditory or visual perceptual problems, as many as 1,000 repetitions may be necessary for mastery of decoding to occur. This is a daunting number. It requires creativity and patience on everyone’s part to persevere through this process.

Without commitment to this lengthy and intense process, your daughter will begin to fall seriously behind. Do not expect the classroom instruction to incorporate this level of intervention, as the skills your daughter needs are often not explicitly taught and certainly not extensively practiced.

Stage 3: Reading to Learn (Ages 8–14)

Readers in this stage have mastered the “code” and can easily sound out unfamiliar words and read with fluency. Now they must use reading as a tool for acquiring new knowledge. At this stage, word meaning, prior knowledge, and strategic knowledge become more important.

Your child will need help to develop the ability to understand sentences, paragraphs, and chapters as she reads. Reading instruction should include study of word morphology, roots, and prefixes, as well as a number of strategies to aid comprehension. About 40% of children with reading difficulties have problems that are not apparent until they reach fourth grade.

Stage 4: Multiple Viewpoints (Ages 14–18)

In contrast to the previous stage of reading for specific information, students are now exposed to multiple viewpoints about subjects. They are able to analyze what they read, deal with layers of facts and concepts, and react critically to the different viewpoints they encounter.

When your daughter reaches the phase where reading involves more complex thinking and analysis, she is ready to shine. She may still have difficulty with some of the mechanics of reading, but her mind is well suited to the sharing and manipulation of ideas. She will be well prepared to move on to the final, fifth stage of reading—college level and beyond. If you can successfully guide your daughter through the early stage barriers to this phase, she will be able to excel at understanding and integrating advanced reading material.

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