Supporting a Balanced Literacy Approach

The Balanced Literacy approach seeks to marry the whole language approach, where literacy skills are taught in context, accompanied by explicit word study such as phonics and phonemic-awareness instruction. Firstly,  teachers model reading or writing so that learners can be exposed to best practice. Learners and teachers then engage in a shared activity, reading a Big Book or writing collaboratively as a group. Finally, learners apply these skills to read or write independently.

Shared Reading

A fun, collaborative activity where a teacher and the whole class read and reread especially crafted big books containing robust vocabulary, rhythm, rhyme, and repetition together. Repeated reading of the same book over a week allows learners to practice reading with the support of their teacher and peers. Shared Reading is used to showcase print conventions, punctuation, vocabulary, and phonics, and as an engaging stimulus for writing, speaking, and listening.

Guided Reading

A teacher works with a small group of learners matched for their ability to read at a similar level. The Guided Reading book used should be able to be read with 90 to 94 percent accuracy with teacher support. Guided Reading provides opportunities for learners to apply known strategies to new text to work out words, deal with difficult sentence structure, and understand conventions they have not encountered before in print.

Reciprocal Reading, Peer & Independent Reading

To learn to read independently, with confidence and comprehension, peer or paired reading adopts the reciprocal teaching approach where peers of similar reading proficiency share responsibility for predicting, clarifying, questioning, summarising, giving opinions, making connections, and visualising.


It is vital that learners have frequent opportunity to hear books being read aloud competently with expression to provide an example to emulate. These books should be interesting, at a higher level, and with richer vocabulary and structure than those they are expected to read themselves.

Phonics & Phonemic Awareness

Phonics instruction teaches the most common sound-spelling relationships while Phonemic Awareness helps learners to hear, identify and manipulate phonemes, the smallest units of sound to differentiate discrete units of meaning. These skills enable learners to decode text rapidly and accurately, directly improving their reading comprehension by freeing up their minds to focus on meaning.

Comprehension Skills

To improve reading comprehension, learners watch their teacher model the application of a comprehension strategy. Learners emulate the process and practice using that strategy until they are able do so independently. These comprehension strategies are: questioning; visualisation; making inferences; making connections; summarising; making predictions; clarifying.

Shared Reading Books

For Shared Reading to be successful, big books need to be more than just big! CHASE’s large-format CAPS approved Key Links Shared Reading Books (Big Books) feature robust vocabulary, rhythm, rhyme, and repetitive chunks of text that encourage learner participation and make language memorable. All Key Links Shared Reading Books contain daily guidance and suggestions for teachers to ensure the learning opportunities are maximised. Available in English, Afrikaans, isiZulu and isiXhosa for the Foundation Phase.

Guided Readers

A teacher works with a small group, each using the same book, and able to read at a similar level with 90-95% accuracy with teacher support. Guided Reading allows learners to apply known strategies to work out words, difficult sentence structures, and understand conventions in print, together.

Reciprocal Reading, Peer & Independent Reading

Reciprocal Reading develops comprehension strategies by learners working collaboratively in small groups to construct the meaning of text together. It may initially be supported by the teacher but is mostly independent of the teacher with learners taking turns to facilitate the group. Jill Eggleton’s Into-Connectors and Connectors use the small group Reciprocal Reading approach with each book exploring a topical issue that gets children sharing thoughts to practice comprehension strategies as they take turns to lead discussions about the text. These levelled titles are also ideal for classroom libraries for Independent Reading at the Intermediate Phase.


The Key Links Read-Aloud Books for teachers and parents feature the kinds of stories, characters, and language that connect with children, sparking their imaginations and creating opportunity for discussion and social-emotional learning. Supportive teaching notes and related extension activities inside every Read-Aloud Book help teachers make the most of the reading experience. Suitable for Grades R to 2.

Phonics Programmes

The Code is The Key uses learners’ own vocabulary to teach how the alphabetic code works. Learners are exposed to all the sounds of English in the first year and they discover that there is diversity in the way the code is written. They develop phonemic awareness skills by playing with sounds in words, mastering skills that are the platform for literacy success.


Catch Up Your Code is aimed at identifying gaps in knowledge of the alphabetic code of English. This knowledge is critical for efficient decoding and spelling, and gaps in this knowledge impact negatively on reading comprehension and quality writing. Catch Up Your Code contains an assessment that identifies the gaps in code knowledge and a series of 10-minute lessons that provide a fast and effective way of catching up this knowledge.

Skills For Reading Comprehension

The Flixies series allows teachers to model reading comprehension explicitly through the gradual release of responsibility model. Flixies offers an ideal introduction to reciprocal teaching of reading, leading learners from learning to read to reading to learn. The topical theme of biodiversity is of keen interest for schools and learners alike. Available in English and Afrikaans and accompanied by a teacher’s guide per title.

Bud-e Emergent Reading Programme

BUD-E exposes emergent readers to the skills that are necessary to progress. The 60 sequential texts focus on building a bank of high–frequency words that learners need to recognise quickly and without effort. Bud-e provides examples of questions that teachers or parents can ask, ensuring that a variety of comprehension skills are covered – predict, prior knowledge, recall, simple inference, question generating. Bud-e includes opportunities to practise decoding skills to develop phonics knowledge and phonemic awareness. Bud-e is authored by international literacy expert, Jill Eggleton QSO and ideal for home-schooling and the classroom.