Maybe you've heard the phrase "scope and sequence," but what the heck is it, and why does it matter?
What is a scope & sequence?
In basic terms, a scope & sequence is the order that skills are taught. For us, we're talking about phonics skills. What skills are taught (scope), and when are they taught (sequence)? Think of this as your roadmap on the road to proficient reading. It's a clear map where phonics skills are taught systematically and cumulatively, or in basic terms: skills are taught in a logical order. Each step is based on skills that were previously taught, building upon each other, like the building blocks of reading. A clear scope & sequence empowers you to keep your child moving along the road to proficient reading.
How do I know what scope & sequence is being used?
If your child attends public or private school, you can ask their teacher which literacy curriculum the school is using. This is not a rude question, but if it makes you feel uncomfortable, you can phrase it by explaining that you're looking to help your child with reading at home as best as you can. Once you know the literacy curriculum, simply google the name of the curriculum and "scope and sequence." (Same goes for your homeschool curriculum. You can google it or look for it in your teacher's guide.)
Maybe the teacher told you they don't follow a specific curriculum, pulling materials from different sources. If there is no scope & sequence, this is a big red flag. Every curriculum that follows the science of reading should have a clear scope & sequence. The science of reading is a interdisciplinary body of research over decades that tells us how our brains learn to read. If the school or curriculum is not following the science or reading, this is a big indicator that your child may struggle with reading even if they are not dyslexic.
How can I use a scope & sequence?
Our ultimate goal is reading comprehension, but to get there a child needs to practice phonics skills. Again. And again. And again. Decodable readers are a great tangible tool to help practice. Think of decodables as training wheels. They're not forever; they're just for now. They target a specific phonics skill (and skills that have already been taught). They only include words that a student can decode. When you know what skills your child is working on, you can target those with lots of practice at home. Decodable readers should be aligned to the curriculm's scope & sequence whevever possible.
What if I don't have a scope & sequence?
If there's no scope & sequence or an unclear one, don't freak out. You can still help your child become a confident reader at home. It may be harder to find the gaps in your child's reading foundations. At The Reader's Drop Inn, we use Express Readers decodable, which follow a basic scope & sequence linked here. Books start with a focus on short vowels and consonant sounds in CVC words (step 1). Once CVC words are mastered, the reader moves to consonant blends or CCVC words (step 2) followed by consonant digraphs (2 letters that say an entirely different sound like /th/, /sh/, or /ch/) in step 3. Step 4 is long vowels with silent e words, sometimes called CVCe/CCVCe words and soft "c". (Fun fact: there are actually 7 jobs of silent e, but this is the most well known one.) Long vowel teams are practiced in step 5 using ai, ee, ea, oa, and ui.
I hope that helps, and I'll see you back here next week for a new blog post that will help you support your child with reading at home.