Skip to main content

Effective Strategies for Developing Reading Skills in Young Learners

Educators are familiar with the alarming statistics: Many U.S. students struggle to develop the reading skills necessary to improve their academic achievement. About a third of fourth and eighth graders who took the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress test couldn’t read at basic proficiency levels. The results also showed that students of all income, gender and ethnic backgrounds are experiencing declines in scores.

The rising number of young learners facing reading challenges has increased the need for qualified literacy specialists and coaches. Graduates of the online Master of Science in Education (MSEd) with a Concentration in Reading and Literacy program from Southern Oregon University (SOU) are equipped with the necessary skills to obtain required endorsements for teaching literacy in the classroom.

Teaching Pillars of Literacy

Every student has different needs when it comes to developing literacy skills, but the foundation they must master is essentially the same. The National Reading Panel defines five pillars of early literacy:

  1. phonemic awareness: identify the sounds that create words
  2. phonics: match sounds to letters and letter groups
  3. fluency: read with accuracy and speed
  4. vocabulary: learn an array of new words and their meanings
  5. comprehension: successfully interpret the words

Many educators are familiar with the strategies their own teachers used to encourage literacy skills, including round-robin and popcorn reading, where educators select students to read specific paragraphs in front of the class. However, several studies have found that these techniques are not very effective since students may learn mispronunciations from their peers or feel embarrassed if they struggle to read in front of a larger group, according to Edutopia.

Other techniques have become more prevalent in place of popcorn reading. Choral reading, where teachers read the material alongside the entire class, encourages all students to participate and learn from their peers without facing negative stigma for struggling to pronounce certain words. Reading in pairs and allowing students to experience audiobooks alongside the written word has also been proven to help struggling readers and children with dyslexia.

Once young learners develop phonics skills, they also require support to successfully interpret the material they are reading. Literacy coaches can lead their students through a series of strategies that include identifying where the comprehension difficulty takes place, restating the difficult text in their own words, looking back in the text for clues to answer their questions and looking forward in the material to see if future passages will explain the text’s meaning.

Other techniques involve using graphic design — including Venn diagrams, cause-and-effect charts and storyboards — to help students visualize the material while attempting to understand a story’s deeper meaning.

Building Comprehension Skills at Home and in the Classroom

For students to truly improve their phonics and reading comprehension, they need support in the home as much — and, in some cases, even more — than they do in the classroom. Parents and families can help foster a healthy learning environment for their children by reading to them often, providing a variety of reading material to gauge a child’s interest in different topics and establishing a regular reading period for kids to sit down with a book of their choice.

These strategies can complement the skills that students are learning in the classroom. Southern Oregon University’s coursework — like Foundations of Literacy; Classroom Assessment and Reading Instruction; and Leadership in Reading Programs — gives rising educational leaders the tools they need to meet the needs of a diverse student population and improve outcomes as they become reading advocates for all students.

Master Literacy Instruction With Southern Oregon University

Graduates of Southern Oregon University’s online M.S. in Education with a Concentration in Reading and Literacy with Endorsement program have a bevy of professional roles to help students overcome their reading challenges through strategies and assessment tools backed by research. After completing a final practicum with a local school district, graduates have the hands-on experience necessary to jump into the next chapter of their careers as leaders in literacy education.

Learn more about Southern Oregon University’s online M.S. in Education with a Concentration in Reading and Literacy program.

Our Commitment to Content Publishing Accuracy

Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only. The nature of the information in all of the articles is intended to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered.

The information contained within this site has been sourced and presented with reasonable care. If there are errors, please contact us by completing the form below.

Timeliness: Note that most articles published on this website remain on the website indefinitely. Only those articles that have been published within the most recent months may be considered timely. We do not remove articles regardless of the date of publication, as many, but not all, of our earlier articles may still have important relevance to some of our visitors. Use appropriate caution in acting on the information of any article.

Request more information

Submit this form, and an Enrollment Specialist will contact you to answer your questions.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Or call 800-490-7974

Begin application process

Start your application today!

Or call 800-490-7974 800-490-7974

for help with any questions you have.