Teaching Tuesday: Building a Strong Foundation for Literacy Success

Dr. Leslie Foley and Amanda Errington, Faculty, College of Education

A educator teaching about literary success

There is no mystery as to what is needed for early literacy success. Research provides clear guidance on experiences children need in preschool to be prepared for future school success. In a joint statement, the National Association for the Education of Young Children along with international Reading Association (IRA) address how the importance of high-quality early childhood experiences from birth through age eight can affect literacy development.1 Building the foundation for literacy development includes addressing early learning standards that include but are not limited to:

  • Reading aloud to children
  • Exposure to concepts of print
  • Phonemic and linguistic awareness
  • Alphabetic principle
  • Vocabulary development

Once children are in a school setting, educators are encouraged to utilize an effective, research-based curriculum where students can experience systematic and explicit literacy instruction. Educators utilize various forms of assessments to guide instructional decision making in the concept areas of print, letter naming, spelling, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. It is imperative that districts, school leaders and educators stay abreast of current research and professional development in these areas. Furthermore, establishing strong home-school connections to share community literacy resources only benefit students in the classroom.

Scaffolding Children’s Experiences for Listening and Speaking

Researchers Gough and Tunmer presented the Simple View of Reading (Decoding (D) x Language Comprehension (LC) = Reading Comprehension (RC)) to clarify the role of decoding in reading comprehension. When examining the Simple View of Reading, research shows that strong reading comprehension is dependent upon a combination of word reading and listening comprehension.2

Children should be engaged in daily, extended conversations to scaffold their listening and speaking skills. This can include coaching children to present and ask questions during show and tell.

In addition, the use of songs that play with sounds, like Willaby Wallaby Woo, to scaffold phonological awareness is important for building early literacy skill for reading. Teachers should drive their instruction by utilizing assessment of language development in Pre-K through Primary grades (i.e., rhyme, syllables, onsets). Assessment in phonological awareness can be implemented in authentic settings by using checklists and rubrics.3

Scaffolding Children’s Experiences for Reading and Writing

The implementation of daily, explicit listening and speaking instruction provides a seamless transition to reading and writing success. Burkins and Yates expressed the need for educators to balance their support of students in both word reading and listening comprehension. This includes addressing areas such as phonological awareness, decoding and sight words recognition. It is essential that educators read aloud both narrative (fiction) and expository (nonfiction) books to children daily.

This practice provides experience to different text types, an important skill for future reading comprehension. Teachers are encouraged to read complex texts with high-level vocabulary to scaffold student’s background knowledge, vocabulary and literacy knowledge.  Lastly, the integration of writing across the curriculum can’t be overemphasized in literacy achievement. Modeling writing as well as providing various writing materials for children, will scaffold and advance their alphabet knowledge, phonological awareness and writing skills.

Educator Professional Development and Home-School Partnerships

The Reading League (TRL) makes a compelling call to action to all educational stakeholders. They call on educational leaders to prioritize professional development on the science of reading for themselves and for educators. The collaboration of state department of education, universities, private foundations, and others is essential in the offering of sound, research-based professional development in the science of reading.4

Furthermore, ongoing coaching and analysis of data to inform instructional practices is essential to student success. This knowledge should be shared regularly with families to ensure literacy follows students home each school day. The utilization of technology to share community resources, apps, literacy tips, or host a family literacy event in person or virtually would strengthen that partnership.

Want more? Check out all of the articles from Teaching Tuesday and return each week for a new post. Learn more about Grand Canyon University’s College of Education and our degree programs and join in our efforts to elevate the education profession.


Retrieved from:

1 International Reading Association, Learning to read and write: Developmentally appropriate practices for young children in August 2022.

2 Gough, P. and Tunmer, W. (1986). Decoding, Reading and Reading Disability. Volume 7 Issue 1.

3 Devries, B. (2019). Literacy Assessment and Intervention for Classroom Teachers. (5th Edition). Routledge  

4 The Reading League, Science of reading: Defining guide in August 2022.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.