Guided Reading: Navigating the Alternative

Feb 21, 2024 | Articles, Reading Tips

By Keara Holmes, virtual tutor and reading specialist at The Community Classroom

Guided Reading, while widely adopted, follows a different trajectory than the Science of Reading. Check out the previous blog post to better understand the Science of Reading and its effective foundational reading practices. Guided Reading involves students reading books at their instructional level, usually within a small group setting, guided by a teacher or instructor. While this approach has merits, it often lacks the explicit and systematic focus on decoding skills, that flows in a logical and unambiguous sequence, provided by the Science of Reading. Here are a few examples:

  1. Limited Emphasis on Phonics. Guided Reading may not offer the same level of phonics instruction as the Science of Reading. Without a strong foundation in decoding skills, students may face challenges in independently tackling unfamiliar words.
  2. Dependency on Context Clues. In Guided Reading, students often rely on context clues, such as pictures or surrounding words, to guess unfamiliar words. While context cues have their place, an overreliance can hinder the development of decoding skills essential for proficient reading.
  3. Inability to Read Unfamiliar Words. When students don’t have a strong foundation in phonemic awareness and phonics, they struggle to sound out unfamiliar words in new books or articles. This is because of the limited time practiced on “cracking the code.” Students need ample practice in sound manipulation (phonological awareness) and phonics instruction to figure out how to approach unfamiliar words when reading.

The Power of Parental and Educational Collaboration

For parents, guardians, and educators, understanding these approaches is pivotal. As we navigate the landscape of elementary education, harmoniously integrating both methodologies, The Science of Reading and Guided Reading, may provide a comprehensive reading education. While Guided Reading fosters a love for reading and comprehension skills, the Science of Reading ensures a robust foundation in decoding- the key to unlocking the world of literature.

Over the past few years as a teacher, I’ve found some amazing Guided Reading and Science of Reading curricula. Here are a few affordable ones for families and educators that I have personally used and would recommend.

  1. Science of Reading Content
    1. FUNNIX
    2. Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
  2. Guided Reading
    1. Guided Readers
    2. Learning A-Z


Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash


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