Online Degrees Blog Five classroom habits to build great reading skills

Five classroom habits to build great reading skills

17 May
Teacher helping student in classroom with an assigned reading.

Reading is a fundamental skill that serves as a gateway to knowledge and empowers students to become lifelong learners. Developing strong reading skills is crucial for academic success and personal growth.

Read on to explore five highly effective habits that can significantly enhance reading skills, with a particular focus on strategies applicable to students learning to read.

Habit one: Daily reading rituals

One of the most powerful habits to cultivate is a daily reading ritual. Encourage students to dedicate a specific time each day to engage with books, stories, or other reading materials. Whether it's reading independently, with a caregiver, or as part of a structured classroom activity, consistent practice helps build fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. By making reading a regular habit, students develop comfort and familiarity with written language.

Time allocation

Aim to allocate at least 20-30 minutes each day for independent reading. This timeframe allows for sustained focus and engagement with the text. However, individuals can adjust the duration based on their reading level, preferences, and availability.


Establishing a regular reading routine helps make reading a habit and integrates it seamlessly into daily life. Consistency reinforces the learning process and helps build fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, and overall reading proficiency.

Benefits of daily reading rituals

  1. Vocabulary expansion: Regular reading exposes individuals to a wide range of words and phrases, contributing to vocabulary growth and understanding.
  2. Comprehension skills: Frequent reading enhances comprehension abilities, including inference-making, drawing conclusions, and making connections between ideas and concepts within the text.
  3. Fluency development: Consistent reading practice improves reading fluency, such as speed, accuracy, and expression, leading to smoother reading experiences.
  4. Knowledge acquisition: Reading daily exposes individuals to various subjects, ideas, and perspectives, expanding their knowledge and understanding of the world.1

Tips for the classroom

While the information provided is based on general recommendations, it’s important to be flexible—adjusting the reading time to fit individual schedules and needs is essential.

Incorporating daily reading rituals into one's routine not only fosters personal enjoyment and fulfillment but also equips individuals with valuable skills applicable to academic, professional, and personal contexts.

Habit two: Interactive read-aloud sessions

Engaging in interactive read-aloud sessions is an effective habit for both young and struggling readers. Teachers and parents and caregivers can read aloud to students, using expressive voices and gestures to bring the text to life. Encourage students to engage in active participation to strengthen comprehension skills, language development, and a love for reading.

Time allocation

Plan for interactive read-aloud sessions that typically range from 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the age and attention span of the audience. Younger children might have shorter sessions, while older students can engage in longer discussions and analyses of the text.

Active participation

Encourage students to actively participate during the read-aloud sessions. This can be done by asking questions, making predictions about the story, sharing personal connections, or engaging in discussions related to the text. Active participation fosters critical thinking, comprehension skills, and a deeper understanding of the content.

Expressive reading

Teachers and parents should use expressive voices, gestures, and intonation to bring the text to life. By using these techniques, they enhance the listening experience and captivate the audience's attention. This helps make the reading session engaging, enjoyable, and memorable.

Benefits of interactive read-aloud sessions

  1. Comprehension skills: Interactive read-aloud sessions provide an opportunity for students to develop and practice comprehension skills, such as understanding story structure, making inferences, and analyzing character motivations.
  2. Language development: By listening to fluent reading and engaging in discussions, students are exposed to a rich vocabulary, varied sentence structures, and proper language usage. This exposure aids in their language development and enhances their own oral and written communication skills.
  3. A love for reading: Interactive read-aloud sessions create a positive and enjoyable reading experience, fostering a love for reading among students. It helps them associate reading with pleasure, imagination, and shared enjoyment, encouraging them to become avid readers.2,3

Tips for the classroom

It's essential to adapt the duration and level of interactivity based on the age and needs of the audience. Additionally, educators and parents should choose books appropriate for each student's developmental stage and interests to maximize engagement and learning outcomes.

Habit three: Phonics and word study

For students learning to read, phonics and word study activities are essential habits to develop. Phonics instruction helps children understand the relationship between letters and sounds and enables them to break down words and improve their reading skills. Incorporate interactive and multisensory activities, such as phonics games, word-building exercises, and sight word practice, to reinforce these foundational skills. Regular phonics and word study practice empower students to read with confidence and accuracy.

Time allocation

Dedicate regular time for phonics and word study activities during reading instruction. Depending on the grade level and individual needs, allocate at least 10-20 minutes per session, multiple times per week.

Phonics instruction

Phonics instruction helps students understand the relationship between letters and sounds, enabling them to decode words and improve reading fluency. It involves teaching the individual sounds (phonemes) associated with letters or letter combinations (graphemes) and how they blend together to form words. Engage students in explicit phonics lessons that focus on letter-sound correspondence, blending, segmenting, and word analysis.

Word-building activities

Incorporate interactive and multisensory activities to reinforce phonics skills. Examples include phonics games, word-building exercises, and sight word practice. Utilize manipulatives, such as letter tiles or magnetic letters, to engage students in hands-on activities where they can physically manipulate letters to create words. This multisensory approach enhances learning and strengthens the connection between sounds and letters.

Benefits of phonics and word study

  1. Decoding skills: Phonics instruction equips students with the skills needed to decode unfamiliar words independently. It enables them to sound out words accurately and boosts reading fluency.
  2. Vocabulary expansion: Phonics instruction also contributes to vocabulary development by helping students recognize and understand the meaning of new words. By decoding words based on their phonetic patterns, students can make connections to known words and expand their word recognition skills.
  3. Spelling proficiency: Phonics instruction supports spelling proficiency as students learn the rules and patterns of spelling. By understanding the sound-symbol relationships, they can apply this knowledge when spelling words correctly.
  4. Reading comprehension: When students have a solid foundation in phonics, they can read with greater accuracy and fluency, which in turn enhances reading comprehension. By freeing up cognitive resources previously allocated to decoding, students can focus on understanding the meaning of the text.4

Tips for the classroom

Creating a supportive and engaging learning environment that encourages active participation and celebrates progress is essential for effective phonics and word study instruction.

Habit four: Vocabulary enrichment

Expanding vocabulary is a critical aspect of building strong reading skills. Encourage students to develop a habit of exploring new words and their meanings. Provide opportunities for students to encounter rich and diverse vocabulary through reading a variety of texts, including fiction, nonfiction, and informational materials. Incorporate word games, word walls, and vocabulary-building activities to deepen their understanding and usage of new words. A robust vocabulary enhances comprehension and enables students to express themselves more effectively.

Time allocation

Dedicate regular time to explicitly teach and reinforce vocabulary. While vocabulary development is an ongoing process, aim to allocate 10-15 minutes during reading instruction to introduce new words and engage in vocabulary-building activities.

Diverse texts

Expose students to a wide variety of texts, including fiction, nonfiction, and informational materials. Reading different genres, topics, and writing styles exposes students to a range of vocabulary words, enabling them to encounter diverse and context-rich language.

Word exploration

Encourage students to actively explore new words and their meanings. Teach them strategies to determine word meanings from context, use dictionaries or digital tools, and make connections to prior knowledge. Engaging students in word exploration cultivates curiosity, expands their word repertoire, and enhances their overall reading comprehension.

Word games and activities

Incorporate engaging word games, word walls, vocabulary graphic organizers, and interactive activities to deepen students' understanding and usage of new words. Activities such as word associations, word sorts, synonym/antonym exploration, and creating vocabulary flashcards can make vocabulary learning enjoyable and interactive.

Benefits of vocabulary enrichment

  1. Comprehension skills: A robust vocabulary enhances reading comprehension by allowing students to grasp the meaning of the text more effectively. When students encounter unfamiliar words, a strong vocabulary foundation enables them to make connections, infer meanings, and gain a deeper understanding of the text.
  2. Expressive language: An expanded vocabulary empowers students to express themselves more effectively in speaking and writing. It provides them with a broader range of words to convey their thoughts, emotions, and ideas.
  3. Academic achievement: Vocabulary knowledge correlates with academic achievement across subjects. A rich vocabulary supports learning in various disciplines, as students can better understand and discuss concepts, engage in academic discussions, and comprehend complex texts.5

Tips for the classroom

It's important to provide explicit vocabulary instruction, model word usage, and create opportunities for students to practice and apply new words in meaningful contexts. Additionally, encouraging students to read independently and incorporating vocabulary-building strategies across the curriculum further supports vocabulary development.

Habit five: Reflective reading and response

Developing reflective reading habits encourages students to think critically about what they read and express their thoughts and ideas. After completing a reading task or finishing a book, provide opportunities for students to reflect on their reading experience. Encourage them to share their favorite parts, make connections to their own lives, ask questions, or express their opinions. Engaging in discussions, writing responses, or creating book reviews helps students develop analytical thinking, comprehension skills, and a deeper appreciation for literature.

Time allocation

Allocate dedicated time for students to reflect on their reading experiences. Depending on the complexity of the text and the age of the students, allow 10-20 minutes for individual reflection and response. Additionally, incorporate opportunities for group discussions or sharing of reflections.

Reflection opportunities

Provide students with structured opportunities to reflect on their reading experiences. This can be done after completing a reading task or finishing a book. Encourage students to share their favorite parts, make connections to their own lives, ask questions, or express their opinions about the text. These reflective activities foster critical thinking, comprehension skills, and a deeper appreciation for literature.

Discussion and dialogue

Engage students in discussions to further develop their reflective thinking. Encourage them to share their insights, engage in peer-to-peer conversations, and listen to diverse perspectives. These discussions enhance comprehension, expand thinking, and promote respectful dialogue.

Writing responses and book reviews

Encourage students to write responses to their reading, such as journal entries, personal reflections, or even creative pieces inspired by the text. They can also create book reviews or recommendations to share their thoughts with others. Writing allows students to articulate their ideas, strengthen their analytical thinking skills, and improve their written expression.

Benefits of reflective reading and response

  1. Critical thinking: Reflective reading promotes critical thinking as students analyze and evaluate the text, make connections, and form opinions. It encourages them to consider different perspectives, engage in deeper analysis, and develop their own interpretations.
  2. Comprehension skills: Reflective reading enhances comprehension by encouraging students to actively engage with the text. Reflecting on the content, making connections, and expressing thoughts and opinions deepen their understanding of the material and help them make personal meaning from the text.
  3. Appreciation for literature: By reflecting on their reading experiences and expressing their thoughts, students develop a deeper appreciation for literature. Reflective practices help them form personal connections, empathize with characters, and recognize the value and impact of different genres and writing styles.6

Tips for the classroom

Create a supportive and inclusive environment where all students feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and opinions. Provide guidance and scaffolding as needed to help students develop their reflective skills. Encourage respectful dialogue and active listening during group discussions to create an inclusive and collaborative learning environment.

Learn the most powerful reading education skills at KU

Looking to lift reading education to new heights? The Curriculum and Teaching online Master's program at KU is the perfect opportunity to do just that and help your students become lifelong readers that thrive beyond the classroom.

According to U.S. News and World Report, KU offers the #19 Best Online Master's in Education Programs for Curriculum and Instruction.4 Our program equips you with the knowledge and expertise needed to make a meaningful impact in today's ever-evolving educational landscape.

You can gain these skills while maintaining your busy schedule with our 100% online master’s programs. Join our community of passionate educators and take the first step towards advancing student success and expanding your career options today.

Our admissions advisors are here to answer your questions. Contact us today.