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Scarborough's Reading Rope

Updated: Mar 12, 2023


Before I knew about Scarborough’s Reading Rope, my reading instruction was truthfully and reflectively dismal and did not accurately meet the needs of my students. Scarborough’s Reading Rope brought structure and clarity to my understanding of the reading journey and continues to be arguably the most impactful piece of research regarding my literacy practice.

Before diving into the more nuanced aspects of words, on my wacky word Wednesday blog, I wanted to share the beauty and simplicity of the Reading Rope and how it can shape your understanding of how your child learns how to read!

So, what does it take to be a skilled reader?

“Skilled readers are able to derive meaning from printed text accurately and efficiently. Research has shown that in doing so, they fluidly coordinate many component skills, each of which has been sharpened through instruction and experience over many years”. (Scarborough, 2001)

A closer look at Scarborough’s Reading Rope

To be become a skilled reading, it takes both major strands: Language Comprehension and Word Recognition. If your child is struggling to read, this is the main framework we use at Latch Onto Learning to identify the area of instruction to target. Oftentimes, in our youngest learners, that instruction focuses on word recognition. This aligns with Scarborough’s (2001) finding that most children who struggle with reading in early school years struggle with the word recognition strand.

When developing learning plans, especially with older students, language comprehension is commonly our focus of tutoring. Scarborough (2001) notes that “Reading skill can also be seriously impeded by weaknesses in the ‘comprehension’ strands, particularly beyond second grade when reading materials become more complex”.

During the diagnostic assessment for reading instruction, one of our main goals is to identify the specific strand that your child is having trouble with. From there, we develop a program that will directly and systematically address that skill.

One final thought... the strand in which teaching morphology falls under is often debated… At Latch Onto Learning, we embrace the fact that it supports both.

Scarborough, H. S. (2001). Connecting early language and literacy to later reading (dis)abilities: Evidence, theory, and practice. In S. Neuman & D. Dickinson (Eds.), Handbook for research in early literacy (pp. 97–110). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

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