Embracing the Science of Reading in Elementary Education

Jan 29, 2024 | Articles, Reading Tips

What is the Science of Reading?

By Keara Holmes, Reading Specialist and Virtual Tutor

In the realm of elementary education, the methodology employed to teach students how to read has been a subject of ongoing debate. Two prominent approaches, the Science of Reading and Guided Reading, stand out the most in this discourse. As educators, parents, and guardians, understanding the nuances of these teaching approaches is crucial for nurturing proficient readers. In this blog post, we’ll explore the Science of Reading and why it is a powerful tool for imparting foundational reading skills to young learners. In a subsequent blog post, we’ll unpack how Guided Reading is different and should come as a subsequent tool in teaching the foundations of reading, if utilized.

The Science of Reading: Decoding the Foundations

The Science of Reading is a research-based approach grounded in cognitive science, linguistics, and psychology. It emphasizes the systematic and explicit instruction of phonics, phonological and phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, and reading comprehension. This approach delves into the mechanics of language, recognizing that proficient reading is built upon a solid foundation of decoding skills.

Phonological/ Phonemic Awareness

The Science of Reading places a strong emphasis on phonological awareness- the ability to identify and manipulate individual sounds in spoken words. By developing phonemic awareness, students enhance their ability to recognize and decode words, ultimately fostering stronger reading comprehension. The majority of reading deficits stem from not having a strong foundation in phonological awareness prior to phonics instruction being introduced.

Phonics Mastery

At the heart of the Science of Reading lies the emphasis on phonics- the relationship between letters and sounds (print). Research consistently shows that explicit and systematic phonics instruction significantly contributes to a child’s ability to decode words. This method ensures students understand the delicate connection between letters and their corresponding sounds, paving the way for independent reading. (insert link).

Reading Fluency and Comprehension

Reading fluency has a direct link to reading comprehension. Fluency happens as a result of effective phonics and phonological awareness instruction. Students shouldn’t be expected to read fluently if they haven’t previously been given the skills needed to read fluently, thus further emphasizing the importance of utilizing a curriculum that supports the Science of Reading.


A rich vocabulary is also integral to comprehension. The Science of Reading encourages the explicit teaching of vocabulary, ensuring that students no only decode words accurately but also comprehend their meanings in context. This multifaceted approach nurtures well-rounded readers.

In conclusion, the Science of Reading emerges as a potent force in equipping young learners with the essential skills needed for a lifetime of reading success. By embracing the systematic and explicit principles of the Science of Reading, educators, parents, and guardians can collectively contribute to the development of confident proficient readers in the elementary school years and beyond. In the next blog, we’ll see how Guided Reading fosters a love for reading and comprehension skills, but should only be utilized after the foundations of reading have been established.


Keara is a certified teacher and Direct Instruction tutor. She received her B.S. in Collaborative Special Education and Human Development & Family Studies and her M.Ed in Special Education, specializing in Transitional Services, at Auburn University. Keara has taught in the elementary school setting and completed hundreds of teaching hours in the secondary and post-secondary settings. She loves teaching and tutoring and is convinced that she is living out her calling and purpose in life.

Want to work virtually with Keara? Reach out to begin the process.​

Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash


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