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Predictors of Reading Success

Early literacy is the key for students to be successful in reading. Letter recognition, phonological awareness and oral language are the best predictors of reading success.

Research has shown time and time again that students must have exposure to repeated positive

literacy experiences in order to be successful. There are many things that factor into the reading

success of little ones, such as print awareness. They all come to school with their unique 

backgrounds and it is up to us to fill in their deficits. So let's dive into some early predictors of 

reading success. 

Knowledge of Letter Names

Letter Recognition is one of the biggest goals of kindergarten. It is also one of the predictors

of reading success in a student's first year of school. When students enter school and they do 

not have a frame of reference when it comes to letters, some of them can have a steep learning

curve ahead. In this case, accuracy is not always king. A student can be accurate in naming the

letters, but it is the ease with which they name the letters that we should be looking at. 

Early literacy is the key for students to be successful in reading. Letter recognition, phonological awareness and oral language are the best predictors of reading success.

When a student can name the letters of the alphabet with fluency, then they will have an easier

time learning all about the sounds that letters make because they already have a frame of

reference. If a student spends most of their time figuring out what each letter is, they will have

less time and effort available to use other strategies to decode print.

Phonological Awareness

We know that most children begin to develop their sense of phonological awareness as  

preschoolers, but what is it exactly? It is the ability to think about the sounds in a word, an

understanding that words are made up of syllables, sounds, and rhymes. They begin to recognize

that words are their own thing (asking what the word bright means), that words can sound the

same (pet and wet), and they also become aware of individual sounds and can manipulate them.

Early literacy is the key for students to be successful in reading. Letter recognition, phonological awareness and oral language are the best predictors of reading success.


When a student is well-developed in phonological awareness, then they already have a head

start in knowing how sounds and letters work together in print. When they have this ability, then 

they are able to begin using sound-letter knowledge effectively in reading and writing. One of the

strongest predictors of reading success in first grade and beyond is a student's level of 

phonological awareness at the end of kindergarten. If you have students who are struggling in 

this area, then early intervention is key.

Oral Language

Oral language is the foundation of learning literacy and a predictor of reading success. School

provides a language-rich environment, one that is different from the language used at home. It

will range anywhere from informal (used at home) to the more formal communication (used at

school). The development of this oral language is an important part of any successful

kindergarten program. So what is oral language? Initially, you would think that it is just the

spoken word, but it is also listening and thinking, which is all combined together to give you

oral language. The more a student explores language in the classroom, they begin to better

understand how to use language for reading and writing.

Early literacy is the key for students to be successful in reading. Letter recognition, phonological awareness and oral language are the best predictors of reading success.

Another purpose of oral language in the classroom is to learn new information. By the time

they have arrived at school, they have already learned to talk. Once they enter our classrooms,

they have to talk to learn, in order to be successful. They begin to use what they already know

about language to help them make sense of what is written on a page. At this point, they start

to make a connection between oral and written language, which is crucial for emergent readers.


If you find that you have some students who are struggling with learning to read, take a quick

minute to see if they could have a deficit in one of these areas. If they do, then research has shown

that these students need explicit instruction in these areas through early intervention. Don't delay!


Early literacy is the key for students to be successful in reading. Letter recognition, phonological awareness and oral language are the best predictors of reading success.

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