About Reading Recovery

What is Reading Recovery?

Reading Recovery was designed for students in Year 1 who are experiencing difficulties with reading and writing. It was developed in New Zealand by Dame Marie Clay, an educator and psychologist. Reading Recovery has been successfully implemented in many other countries including Australia, United Kingdom, United States of America, and Canada. The ‘program’ is constantly being refined and evaluated based on over 30 years of ongoing research.

Reading Recovery teachers must be experienced classroom teachers who participate in a year of  training with a Reading Recovery tutor. Reading Recovery teachers participate in ongoing professional learning to update and refine their skills.

Students participating in Reading Recovery have individual lessons for half an hour each day, with a trained Reading Recovery teacher.  Most students remain on the program for 10-20 weeks, according to individual needs.

Download a brochure about Reading Recovery which is available in many languages.


Who does Reading Recovery?

Reading Recovery is  introduced at the Year 1 level to enable the students to catch up when the learning gap is comparatively narrow.

Students who attend Reading Recovery are initially selected based on the results from the Observation Survey, administered at the beginning of the year, and in consultation with the classroom teachers and literacy coaches. The first intake of students is usually taken from the eldest Year One children who are at risk. As each child finishes Reading Recovery, the student who is most at risk at the time usually fills the vacant position.

What are the benefits of Reading Recovery?

Individual instruction allows the teacher to give the student the prompts and strategies needed for that child at that point in time. During the half hour lesson, there is a lot of praise and just the right amount of support for the child to successfully learn, use, and revise strategies (e.g. rereading, reading ahead, taking words apart, matching letters to sounds) in order to become a successful reader and writer.

There are two possible outcomes after a full series of Reading Recovery lessons which are both positive for the student:

1. The child makes accelerated progress and continues to advance within the classroom.

2. Additional evaluation is recommended and further action is initiated to help the child continue making progress. This is a positive outcome because Reading Recovery’s diagnostic teaching helps identify children who need more help and provides a documented record of the child’s knowledge and strengths as a base for future intervention and teaching.

What happens during a Reading Recovery lesson?

Before the students begin Reading Recovery they spend 10 lessons informally working with the Reading Recovery teacher. This is called ‘roaming the known‘ and it is essential to establish a safe, caring environment for the student.
The series of lessons are designed to meet the daily needs of each student but a ‘typical’ Reading Recovery lesson would include:

  • Reading 2 or more familiar books.
  • Re-reading the new book introduced yesterday.
  • Working with letter identification. (Magnetic letters.)
  • Breaking words into parts. (Magnetic letters.)
  • Composing and writing a story. (With support.)
  • Reconstructing the cut-up story.
  • Participating in a new book introduction.
  • Reading the new book.

The starting place for each student is what he/she can already do. The student has his/her own box of carefully chosen books. These books become familiar and give the student the chance to be phrased and fluent (sound like a good reader). When books are reread, the meaning is already there, and the student can concentrate on making new discoveries relating to the look and structure of the writing.

Within the lesson there is a small but important part of the lesson when the student uses magnetic letters to learn about letters, and making and breaking words. This word work teaches the student to learn how we can take words apart and put them together to help us read and write, e.g. th-at, m-or-n-ing The student also learns to use known words to get to new words, e.g. d-ay: st-ay, pl-ay-ing

Writing is an essential part of the lesson. This is where the student learns the links between spoken and written language. Students use and expand their knowledge of phonemic awareness (sounds within words). He/she learns that letter order is important when reading and spelling.

The written story is quickly copied to a sentence strip that can be cut into words and parts of words. The student re-assembles the story. He/she is required to search, locate, check, self-correct, reread and predict- all skills that are needed when reading.

The lesson always finishes with a new book. New books provide the opportunity to learn new vocabulary and try out known and new strategies.

If your child is selected to take part in Reading Recovery you will be invited to attend an interview with the Reading Recovery teacher very early in the series of lessons.

The Reading Recovery teachers are available to discuss your child’s progress.




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