Learning objectives of module:
Time: 15 minutes
The stages of reading were developed by Chall (1983) to explain how children learn to read. This reading to learn/learning to read framework provides general guidelines for educators, and helps them decide which techniques and strategies make the most sense for a student, based on his or her strengths and learning needs.
To begin a discussion about the stages of reading, use these leading questions:
Explain to the volunteers how the school curriculum is organized in general terms. From K to 3, the focus of the curriculum is learning to read. During these grades, children learn about relationships between words, about phonics, how to break words down, etc. The purpose of homework during these grades is to help students “learn how to read.” So, for example, if a student (in kindergarten up to grade 3) arrives at the homework club without any homework, reading aloud with this student directly supports the school curriculum.
Starting in grade 4, there is a major shift in the curriculum and the emphasis changes from a focus on learning to read to a focus on reading to learn. The emphasis is on gaining knowledge through reading. Therefore, the children read to learn about history, read to learn about geography, read to learn about life! The issue for many older students in these grades is one of comprehension. Many students are able to read books, homework and other material fairly fluently but they have difficulty understanding and dealing critically with what they read.
In addition, older students in grade 4 and up who have not yet mastered the mechanics of reading are especially frustrated as they are expected to focus on the meaning making process.
Refer students to page 12 of A Tutor’s Guide: Reading and Writing with Children and Youth for more information on the stages of reading.
In Appendix C of this guide, there is detailed overview of the stages of reading. This chart provides information on the characteristics of each stage — and is especially useful for understanding the reading development of older elementary and high school students.