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Reading Instruction Checklist

Reading Comprehension Skills-Reading Comprehension Strategies Your school's reading program should include the five essential components of reading instruction that research has identified:
  1. Phonemic Awareness
  2. Phonics
  3. Fluency
  4. Vocabulary
  5. Reading Comprehension

Use the checklist below to determine if each component is a part of the reading program your school is using.

Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness is knowing that words are made of individual sounds and being aware of and able to manipulate these sounds, which are called phonemes. Phonemes are the smallest parts of sound in a spoken word, such as the /s/ in /sit/. Your child should be able to perceive individual sounds, think about them and manipulate them. For example, your child should be able to perform the following activities:

  • Rhyming (the fat cat Pat)
  • Picking out syllables in spoken words (Su-san)
  • Knowing the first and last sounds in a word (ran, can; sit, it)
  • Separating the sounds in a word (/s/-/i/-/t/)

Teaching sounds along with the letters of the alphabet is important—it can help your child to see how sounds are related to reading and writing. If your child does not know letter names and shapes, teach them along with phonemic awareness.

Understanding phonemes is essential to phonics instruction, described next. Make sure that your child's reading program explicitly teaches phonemic awareness, and if your child does not understand phonemes, ask the teacher for extra help in this area.


Phonics is the relationship between sounds and letters. Children must understand that letters are representations of sounds before they can learn to read. Phonics instruction teaches children letter-sound correspondences and the alphabetic principle—that there are systematic and predictable relationships between written letters and spoken sounds.

Phonics instruction is most effective when it begins early—in kindergarten or first grade—and lasts for about two years. For older students (grades 2–6), ongoing phonics instruction can help bolster skills in reading individual words and reading text out loud, but they also need instruction in spelling, reading fluency and comprehension.

If your child is in kindergarten, first or second grade, make sure that systematic and explicit phonics instruction is included as part of the reading curriculum. If your child is older and having trouble learning to read, find out if he would benefit by having phonics added to his program.
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