1. Education
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Reading 101 -- The Basics of Reading Instruction for Special Education

Reading is Laid Out Into It's Component Parts to Help Teach to Needs


Reading 101 attempts to lay out the descrete elements of reading needed to be a successful reader. Here the elements of reading are described and links are provided to explicit examples, goals for IEP writing and activities and worksheets to help drill and review these important building block skills with disabled readers.

Disabled readers have deficits in one of the building blocks of reading. In order to understand how to intervene, you need to understand those building blocks.

Phonemic Awareness

Getty Images

In order to begin reading, a student needs to understand the relationship between letters and letter sounds in language. This is a fairly complex concept, and some children may never truly acquire this skill. Some component parts:

  • Letter Recognition
  • Letter Sound Correspondence

First, the child needs to be able to recognize and replicate the actual word sound, or phoneme. This article helps you understand how to teach phonemic awareness.

Letter Recognition

Children need to be able to recognize and name the letters of the alphabet.  Children who are truly dyslexic sometimes have difficulty confusing the direction of similar letters, such as p, b, d and q or similar letters, such as n and r.  Many typically developing children show the ability to differentiate letters quickly. some struggle telling letters apart.

Letter Sound Correspondence

Before reading, children need to understand that letters have corresponding sounds. That letters may have more than one sound may confuse disabled or dyslexic readers, who may have difficulty processing so much information.

Decoding Skills

Once a student recognizes the letters and understands that each letter has at least one sound, the next step is to put those sounds together into words. The important thing is for a child to understand in an intuitive way the patterns that make words.

Word Recognition

Many words in English, referred to as “high frequency words,” are not “regular” and don’t follow phonic rules. How about “love?” (luv) and “of” (uv.) Many words need to be memorized, like said, walk, could, not and many other common words.

Reading Fluency

The next step is to string words together into sentences. It is important to recognize that words put together lead to meaning. Another thing that should replace decoding is word recognition.

We emphasize reading with expression for an important reason: reading with expression reflects reading with understanding, and often reflect understanding that appreciates nuance. Listen to a very competent young reader, and you will be impressed with how they are able to infer meaning.

Readers with low rates are often not reading with good word recognition, are often bogged down with decoding individual words. They cover less material than their peers who read with more fluency, and they are often slowed down by the mechanics of word recognition.

Reading Comprehension

In its simplest form, reading comprehension is understanding what you have read. It is actually much more complex than that. There is recall: when you remember details from a text. This is the lowest level of reading comprehension. There is inference: this is drawing conclusions from the details of what you heard. There is recognizing and using either elements of literature of elements of non-fiction. A good reader who succeeds will have all of these skills.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.