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Schedules for Intensive Reading Remediation with Essentials and The Essentials Reader

Suggested schedules for eight, twelve, or twenty-week reading interventions for older struggling readers.

Why do an intensive course?

When a student is struggling with reading to the point that it interferes significantly with other areas of school or life, it may be worthwhile to set other things aside for a limited time and spend several hours a day with Essentials, then gradually reintroduce other work as the student gains confidence and skill in reading.

Many students who have struggled are deeply discouraged and cynical about reading, and they may need to see how the pieces fit together before they gain hope and their attitude towards reading begins to change. For these students, we recommend progressing through the Essentials lessons as quickly as they are able, so that they can see benefits as soon as possible. For an older struggling student, sometimes a fast-paced intensive course is most helpful.

A note about Pre-Lessons

The ten optional Pre-Lessons at the beginning of Essentials can help students who are struggling with reading to strengthen crucial foundational skills: phonemic awareness, the sounds of the A-Z single-letter phonograms, and (in conjunction with our Rhythm of Handwriting program) handwriting. Use the Placement Test to guide you in deciding whether the Pre-Lessons are needed, and aim to spend around 20-30 minutes on each Pre-Lesson.

For an intensive remediation with an older struggling reader, we suggest you choose one of the following schedules (after teaching the Pre-Lessons):

One Unit per Day

Time per day: 3 - 4 hours
Time to complete: 6 - 8 weeks


Essentials

The Essentials Reader
Monday Essentials Unit 1
Tuesday Unit 2 Essentials Reader Unit 1*
Wednesday Unit 3 Reader Unit 2
Thursday Unit 4 Reader Unit 3
Friday etc. etc.

* When moving at an accelerated pace, we recommend staggering Essentials and The Essentials Reader so that the student reads the Reader units one or more days after completing the corresponding unit in Essentials. While the student has all the tools to read each Essentials Reader text after completing the unit in Essentials, giving an additional day to practice and gain familiarity with the tools first can be beneficial for building confidence.

One Unit Every Two Days

Time per day: 2 - 3 hours
Time to complete: 3 - 4 months

Essentials
The Essentials Reader
Monday
Essentials Unit 1
Parts 1-4, skipping most Review sections
Tuesday
Part 1-4 Review sections
Part 5 review & assessment
Reader Unit 1*
Pre-Reading, Reading, Post-Reading
Wednesday
Essentials Unit 2
Parts 1-4, skipping most Review sections
Handwriting & Composition, Extension & Cross-Curricular Activities
Thursday
Part 1-4 Review sections
Part 5 review & assessment
Reader Unit 2
Pre-Reading, Reading, Post-Reading
Friday
Essentials Unit 3
Parts 1-4, skipping most Review sections
Handwriting & Composition, Extension & Cross-Curricular Activities
Monday
etc. etc.

* While this pace is not as fast as the first schedule, some students may still find it beneficial to delay the Reader units by two or more days behind the corresponding Essentials units in order to provide some additional time to practice and gain familiarity with the new tools. For example, the schedule above could be adjusted so that students begin Reader Unit 1 on Thursday, after completing Essentials Unit 2, and finish it on Friday after beginning Unit 3.

One Unit Every Three Days

Time per day: 1 - 2 hours
Time to complete: 4 - 5 months


Essentials

The Essentials Reader
Monday Essentials Unit 1
Parts 1 - 2
Tuesday Parts 3 - 4 Reader Unit 1
Pre-Reading
Wednesday Part 5 Reading, Post-Reading, Handwriting & Composition, Extension Activities
Thursday Essentials Unit 2
Parts 1 - 2
Friday Parts 3 - 4 Reader Unit 2
Pre-Reading
Monday Part 5 Reading, Post-Reading, Handwriting & Composition, Extension Activities

A few more tips for reading remediation

Adjust the pace as you go. You may wish to begin with one of the more intensive schedules and then switch to the third schedule later if the student begins to show substantial improvement. If you have set aside other work to focus on remediation for a time and the student is gaining confidence in reading to the point where he or she is beginning to voluntarily read texts besides the phonics-controlled material in Essentials, you can begin to reincorporate more work from other subjects and decrease your pace as you continue through Essentials.

Focus on reading. With a struggling reader, do teach the spelling and grammar sections of the units, in order to strengthen reading fluency and lay a foundation in these other skills —but do not make mastery of these areas a priority. Focus on phonemic awareness, learning the phonograms and spelling rules, and the development of reading fluency the first time through Essentials with a struggling reader. In particular, do not hold these students back from progressing to the next units simply because they make some spelling mistakes in the assessment.

Do more Spelling Analysis. For struggling readers, the process of Spelling Analysis (in Part 2 of each lesson), when students practice applying the phonograms and rules in words and analyze why the words are spelled the way the are, is one of the most powerful and helpful ways to strengthen reading skills. While it is a good idea to choose one level of spelling list and activities to focus on as you move through the units, based on what is indicated on the Placement Test and what seems to provide the right level of challenge, we recommend teaching additional spelling words from one of the other lists as well, doing more Spelling Analysis in order to continue strengthening these fundamental reading and spelling skills. Struggling readers will benefit from doing spelling analysis with both the Level A and Level B lists in each unit before reading The Essentials Reader. (Learn more: Spelling Analysis video.)

For slower-paced schedules designed for use over the course of a school year, see Schedules for Essentials with The Essentials Reader
For even faster, abbreviated schedules for short-term intensives, see Scheduling Ideas for Summer Reading Camps and Short-Term Interventions

Related resources

Overview: Scheduling Tips for Essentials 2nd edition
Schedules for Slowing Down Essentials
Schedules for Essentials with The Essentials Reader
Schedules for Intensive Spelling Remediation with Essentials
Scheduling Ideas for Summer Reading Camps and Short-Term Interventions
Components of an Essentials Lesson