What is Reading Recovery for Young Children and Tips for Parents

Learning to Read

Young children move along a pathway of skills development as they learn to read. For some, this pathway takes considerably longer to navigate than for others. Some children enter school already able to read, while others (more typically) have a basic understanding of the letters of the alphabet (graphemes) and perhaps the corresponding sounds (phonemes) that each letter makes.Some children have not yet learnt the letters of the alphabet, or may be working hard to master the complexities of two different languages at the same time.

As children move along the ‘learning to read’ pathway, they become able to perform skills such as:

  • turning the page at the correct time
  • matching the action and objects in the picture with the text
  • scanning the text from left to right and top to bottom
  • turning the pages from the front of the back of the book
  • concentrating on a single visual point for a period of time
  • hearing the sounds made by various phonemes
  • reading or engaging with a variety of literature types, such as big books, magazine articles, newspaper stories, and listening to recorded stories
  • learning about how letters blend together to make digraphs (2 letters), trigraphs (3 letters) and quadgraphs (4 letters) etc.
  • understanding punctuation forms such as quotation marks, capital letters, commas and full stops.

Children also gradually build a sight vocabulary of words they can recognise without having to sound them out. Mastering this word bank of sight words is an enormous help as children are then able to read more quickly and fluently.

Reading Recovery

Reading recovery is a program implemented in schools. Children at the end of their first year of school are identified as struggling with their reading skills. This is often done through formal testing by the class teacher or a reading recovery specialist teacher. The levels and assessment techniques may vary, but often children who are identified as not reading to at least a Level 5 standard may be chosen for reading recovery support.

This involves frequent one on one lessons with a reading recovery teacher (often around half an hour) over a number of months. The aim is to boost the literacy skills to the point where the student can comfortably slot back into the mainstream reading program in the classroom, and be performing at a level more in line with their peers as they progress through their second year of schooling.

It is important before implementing a reading recovery program to check for any other possible reasons for reading problems, such as a child who has dyslexia, has a vision or hearing problem, or has a learning disability.


  • Teacher experience.