The 5 Pillars Of Reading

the five pillars of reading

At Banyan Tree Educational Services, our focus is helping individuals, from preschoolers to adults, build confidence and critical processing skills through multi-sensory instruction. These skills build the foundations for reading, spelling, language, comprehension, math, and writing.

One of our core approaches to reading is addressing the Five Pillars: Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Vocabulary, Fluency, and Comprehension. We start from the foundation, Phonemic Awareness, and use the underlying skills to build our students into successful and confident readers and writers!

Here is what you need to know about The Five Pillars:

Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic Awareness is the ability to hear, recognize, and manipulate sounds. It is one of the earliest predictors for reading ability, which is why we target this area first. If students are able to understand sounds, they can begin to use this “sounding out” strategy to attack more challenging words.


Phonics is taking Phonemic Awareness a step further by matching sounds with correct letters and letter patterns. As a student grows in his or her auditory recognition, phonics provides the foundation for visualizing and verbalizing these sounds, letters, and words. This is necessary for reading.

Our strategy for teaching and strengthening phonics is a multi-sensory approach that addresses multiple learning systems simultaneously.


A strong vocabulary helps a student to identify and understand more complex words. It also helps reading ability and comprehension as words become more familiar and less initimidating.

Vocabulary practice is integrated into all of our Educational Therapy sessions and classes in order to continually build upon previously-learned skills and acquire new words.


Fluency is a student’s ability to read accurately, expressively, and at a rhythmic pace. As a student grows in this area, it naturally increases reading comprehension.

To support student skills in this area, we often incorporate read-aloud passages. “Cold” reads are when a student is seeing a passage for the first time; “hot” reads are reinforcement of familiar passages.


The last of The Five Pillars is comprehension, ideally the final stage and accumulation of the other four steps. Comprehension is a student’s ability to understand and retain important information in order to create meaning from the text.

As students grow in their abilities, they will also be able to read critically and objectively across a variety of genres and topics.

To learn more about The Five Pillars, request information on our learning programs, or set up a FREE consultation for your child, give us a call: (858) 367-5428.

You can also visit our contact page here.

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