Variability in children's early reading strategies

Farrington-Flint, Lee; Coyne, Emily; Stiller, James and Heath, Emily (2008). Variability in children's early reading strategies. Educational Psychology, 28(6) pp. 643–661.



The present study examines the development of sight word reading in young children by examining changes in their self-reported reading strategies over time. A sample of 65 five to seven year olds were asked to read 40 real word items, all carefully matched for letter length and word frequency, on three separate occasions. Changes in the children’s word identifications were measured using immediately retrospective verbal self-reports. Overall, the results showed some variability in the children’s self-reported reading strategies. Over time the children relied less on phonological strategies and moved towards reliance on directly retrieving words from memory. This change was most evident in the older children; while both year groups showed similar patterns of shifting reliance from explicit phonological strategies to retrieval, this shift was simply less frequent among the younger children. An analysis of word-specific changes in reading strategies showed that the older children had a better sight vocabulary for more complex word items. These findings provide further support for Ehri’s mediated phase theory in explaining children’s development in learning to read.

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