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What scope and sequence is followed for your child?

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

What scope and sequence are you using? As a parent, you should be asking this of your child's teacher and tutor they are working with. If they are not following a particular sequence, then they are not following the science of reading.

While the research has clearly indicated students benefit from following a scope and sequence, the research does not indicate what scope and sequence to follow. This means even if teachers are following a scope and sequence they can be different from one another. So a transition from Grade 1 to 2 might mean pieces of explicit instruction are missed. It might also mean that the tutor and your child's teacher are introducing things at different times. This disconnect between home and school can place additional cognitive load on your child who is trying to focus on learning 2 patterns at once.

As a speech language pathologist, I use a sequence influenced by speech complexity (see the speech page for when sounds develop). The research has shown that drawing attention to how the sounds are made with the mouth is beneficial for teaching the letters that represent those sounds.

B and P are what we call cognates. They are produced the same way (air puffing out of the lips) but B has the voice on (feel your neck for vibration while you say it) while P has the voice off. There are many cognates in English and so I introduce sounds in their cognate pairs. Other sounds such as M, N and NG are all produced with the air coming our of the nose (feel your nose while you make them). I introduced those sounds together.

When introducing consonants, I introduce the earlier developing sounds first:

p/b, t/d, f/v, k/g, m, n, ng along with short 'a' and short 'o'. I also add s/z in here.

The child can already practice reading many words with these combinations (e.g., bat, fan, mop, etc.)

Then I move on to h, l, qu, r, w, x, y and the remaining short vowels: u, i, e. In grade 1, I frequently see l, w, and r errors. I don't wait for a child's speech to be correct to work on these but I will target them consciously while also addressing their speech needs. I can use consistent cueing between speech and reading for the best success. I work on phonological awareness skills will help both speech and reading. The letters H, W, X and Y are challenging for students because their letter names do not contain the sounds that they make. This if often whey students say "w" for Y (they hear /w/ and long i in the name).

Next, I introduce the consonant digraphs SH, CH, WH, voiced TH and unvoiced TH and the concepts that sometimes 2 letters represent 1 sound. Did you know that TH makes 2 sounds? Think about the words 'thin' and 'the'. Feel your neck for the TH in 'thin'. Your voice is off. Feel your neck for the TH in 'the'. Your voice is on. This is also where I will introduce C/CK. C can say both /s/ and /k/ depending on the vowel after it (e.g., cent/ can). At the end of words that have a short vowel right before the /k/ sound we spell that sound with 2 letters: CK (e.g., rock). Now the child is spelling words with all the consonants and short vowel sounds.

Up until now, the child has only needed to blend and segment 2 - 3 sounds. This is when I up the phonological complexity to 4 sound words containing blends (e.g., stop, jump, flip). I continue only using words with short vowels.

Now I go from 1:1 mapping for vowels to 2:1 mapping for vowels by introducing silent 'e'. Silent 'e' makes the vowel say it's letter name, or long vowel sound (e.g., short- 'fin', long- 'fine'). The student will always need to check the end of the word to see if the vowel will say it's name.

Then I increased the complexity even more making it many-to-one as there are many ways to spell the long vowel sounds. For example, long 'e' can be spelled using an open syllable (e.g., be), silent 'e' next to the vowel (e.g., bee), using 'ee' (e.g., week), using 'ea' (e.g., bean), using 'ey' (e.g., key). Frequency of each spelling in texts is how I determine which patterns to focus the most time on. If we come across a spelling pattern that is not common, we add it to our chart but don't spend too much time on it.

That's not all! There are still MORE vowel sounds to learn. I introduce the vowel diphthongs next: oo (as in boo) / oo (as in book), aw / au, oy / oi, ou, ow (this can also be a way to spell a long vowel).

Finally, I introduce r-controlled vowels. The reason I do these last is that the R sound is later developing and can be quite challenging for students early on. Again, I don't wait for them to have their r sound before teaching the r-controlled vowels but for students with R errors it takes a trained ear to know if what they said was correct given their sound error. This is really where an SLP will be able to support reading and ensure appropriate feedback is given to help the child achieve success!

Again, there is no correct order for introducing these spelling patterns but it is important that the tutor or teacher has considered WHAT order they will explicitly teach these patterns and WHY. As an SLP, I may change the order based on the child's phonological awareness skills and articulation skills. That clinical judgement means your child is receiving the approach best tailored to their needs.

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