How Parents Can Support Science of Reading Instruction


In this blog series, Savvas author, educator, and literacy expert Dr. Lee Wright will guide us through the importance of effective classroom management when delivering Science of Reading-based instruction, along with practical strategies you can start using right away to help lead your students to reading proficiency.

We, as teachers, now know that the best way to support students’ reading development in the classroom is through Science of Reading-based instruction. We also know that a child’s reading development is positively influenced when parents reinforce that instruction at home. 

But since the Science of Reading is a fairly recent emerging body of knowledge in comparison to the long history of reading instruction, most parents are unfamiliar with it and, as a result, cannot help their children with concepts they have not been exposed to nor understand. 

Savvas - How Parents Can Support Science of Reading Instruction Therefore, it is incumbent upon teachers to support their students’ families with how to use the Science of Reading-informed skills that their children are learning about in school to reinforce reading skills at home.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to help parents or caregivers understand the Science of Reading and give them the tools and knowledge to be able to support their child as they learn to become proficient readers using this important body of research.

Why Explaining the Science of Reading to Parents Is Important

Research indicates that when parents express interest in their children’s classroom reading routines and learn which skills are most important to reinforce from their end, it can significantly increase the likelihood of children becoming proficient readers. So it’s critical for teachers, when planning out their reading lessons, to also map out how they will partner with students’ parents throughout the year so that what students learn in the classroom can be shared, discussed, reinforced, and celebrated at home. 

When reading skills are reinforced by parents, it increases students’ motivation and drive towards wanting to become independent readers. And when children experience their teacher and parents both discussing and supporting them in developing the same reading skills and habits, they are more likely to trust that these skills are important toward their academic wellbeing. 


How to Help Parents Support the Science of Reading

Partnering with parents involves building relationships over time through positive open communication and frequent contact. So, it’s important to start working those lines of communication into your reading lesson plans early on. Here are some ideas on what you can do to help parents understand the Science of Reading and equip them with the tools to better support their child’s reading progress.

Provide Helpful Parent Resources About the Science of Reading

At the beginning of the school year, send out one or more parent support resources (e.g., classroom newsletters, emails, classroom website, and/or social media posts, etc.) about the Science of Reading and how parents can support their child’s reading instruction at home. 

Start by giving parents a brief overview of how reading instruction has changed from past years, as well as explanations of the meaning and importance of the Science of Reading. For example, tell parents about the recent scientific findings that have revealed the benefits and efficacy of teaching phonemes and phonics instruction as well as fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension instruction versus the whole-language and guided reading approaches, which are not evidence based. Be sure to write it in simple language and include links to informative articles from trusted sources.

Send home a document with simple definitions and examples of the five core components of reading instruction: 

  • Phonological Awareness: Parents can sound out letter sounds in words with their child.
  • Phonics: Parents can help children with spelling activities. 
  • Vocabulary: Parents can help their children discuss and compare/contrast new vocabulary at home, such as by generating vocabulary antonyms and synonyms.
  • Fluency: Parents can read to their child at home with expression as a powerful model for fluency development.
  • Comprehension: Parents can help children identify the main idea of a text, formulate a summary, use text evidence, and form word associations.

Furthermore, each new reading manipulative that is placed in the classroom requires even more classroom management decisions, such as how, where, and when to house, label, and make it available for students’ use.

The successful implementation of the instructional changes required for Science of Reading-informed instruction is highly dependent on the teacher's classroom management knowledge and skills. The more classroom management knowledge and skills teachers have in their toolbox, the better they will be able to address the challenges associated with the successful implementation of Science of Reading-based instruction in the classroom. 

Additionally, you can provide parents with an explanation of how you plan to use reading data to base all reading instructional decisions throughout the school year, as well as a sample of what the reading data looks like. 

You can also give parents simple, at-home reading activities that they can regularly engage in with their children to support the various domains of Science of Reading-informed instruction. For example, encourage parents to read text from the world around them with their children, such as recipes, emails, food label contents, industrial signage, restaurant menus, product labels and assembly directions. Other fun ways parents can interest their children in reading include playing audiobooks, labeling objects around their homes, and playing word games such as Scrabble or hangman. Helping their children identify and explore the meaning of new words can build their vocabulary while modeling how to ask questions before, during and after reading can improve their comprehension skills. 

Lastly, you can provide parents with grade-level state annual reading objectives or standards that their child will be expected to master. And if your school uses a core reading program that includes a parent and/or student at-home log-in connection, provide them with log-in information along with samples of reading activities they can access online. You may also want to provide them with an abridged list of grade-level, high-priority Science of Reading-related terms and their definitions, such as Phonemic Awareness, Phonemes, Digraphs, Blends, Graphemes, Syllables, Orthography, Decodable Readers, etc.

Provide Ongoing Reading Instruction Updates

In the classroom newsletter, emails, or other forms of parent communication, provide ongoing reading instruction updates so parents know what skills they’re working on in the classroom so that they can then support those skills at home. The following are examples of what you can send them:

  • High-priority reading skills that children will be learning about during the upcoming month or unit of instruction
  • A dedicated, consistent, section on the Science or Reading
  • New reading related instructional routines that students will be expected to master during upcoming instruction
  • Dates/times of upcoming formal and informal reading student assessments
  • A dedicated section about best dates/times and communication methods for caregivers to informally conference with you about their child’s reading progress

Conduct Ongoing Check Ins on Student Reading Accomplishments 

A few times per year, schedule time to contact each student’s parent to let them know one or more specific reading-related accomplishments that their child has accomplished and request that they celebrate that accomplishment with their child. 

For example, you could send an email that says something like:


Dear Mrs. Smith,

This is just a quick email about Matthew’s recent reading accomplishments. This week he was able to show me that he has learned all of the different sounds of the consonant combinations “sh,” “ch,” and “wh.” As you may recall from our last meeting, this was something that Matthew was struggling with in the past. I am so proud of him and wanted to personally thank you for all the work you’ve clearly been doing at home to help him master his grade level reading skills. Please ensure to celebrate this reading accomplishment with him today.

Take care,
Mrs. Owen, Grade 1 teacher at XYZ Elementary 


Conduct Parent Literacy Gatherings

Offer parents opportunities to attend in-person and/or virtual literacy learning meetings that you host. During these meetings you can explain the information listed in the resources you provided them. These meetings can optimize parent involvement, if you:

  • Use short video clips to help better explain and illustrate core Science of Reading concepts.
  • Incorporate partner and/or small-group breakout discussions. 
  • Conduct mini-demonstration lessons of what Science of Reading-informed reading skill instruction will look like in the classroom.
  • Conduct a classroom walkthrough of where key literacy learning will take place in both whole-group and small-group settings.
  • Showcase frequently used materials and resources students will be expected to use during reading instruction. 
  • Provide opportunities for parents to practice and receive feedback at engaging in activities that can be conducted at home to reinforce Science of Reading-informed skills.
  • Provide time and opportunities for parents to ask questions about what their child will be expected to learn about reading.

Engage in Ongoing Caregiver Reading Data Conferences

You can also engage in more in-depth data-sharing conferences with parents where you walk them through the data you record during reading conferences. This is an opportunity for you to talk to parents about how their child is progressing or where they may need more help at home. These meetings should be conducted one-on-one (e.g., in person, over the phone or through secure online methods), and include the following information:

  • Updates on the student’s data-informed progress on key reading domains and competencies
  • Reading areas in which the student is progressing well and areas that could benefit from improvement
  • Specific examples of reading skills that their child is developing well at and examples of needed reading skill improvement 
  • Student reading growth needs in comparison with state grade-level competencies and standards and not comparing a student’s progress with any other student 
  • Focus areas to target at home for supporting knowledge and skills
  • A short list of specific home actions for ensuring that the student can receive focused home-based reading support

It’s important to note that students have a right to privacy when it comes to their data. As such all data conferences should be conducted one-on-one between the teacher and parent using secure communication methods. Secure methods ensure no one but the teacher and the parent can access the information being discussed during the data meeting.

Parents are much more likely to feel motivated to support classroom reading instruction when they routinely experience that their questions, thoughts, opinions, knowledge, and efforts are valued by their child’s teacher and can make a genuine difference in their child’s academic progress. Happy teaching!

Tip: Take your parent communication to another level by offering opportunities to attend in-person and/or virtual literacy learning meetings (2-to-3 times during the academic school year) with you. During these meetings you can revisit the same kinds, and/or expand upon, the information listed in this blog post.

Tip: Take your parent communication to another level by offering opportunities to attend in-person and/or virtual literacy learning meetings (2-to-3 times during the academic school year) with you. During these meetings you can revisit the same kinds, and/or expand upon, the information listed in this blog post.


About The Author

Lee Wright, Ph.D.

Dr. Wright began his career as a kindergarten teacher in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. For over two decades, he spent time as a literacy coach, Texas statewide staff developer, and professor of education. Today, he trains educators on topics that focus on the importance of effective classroom management, small-group instruction, and early literacy. He is a coauthor of Three Cheers for Pre-K and myView Literacy from Savvas Learning Company.