Kindergarten Training in Phonological Awareness: Fluency and Comprehension Gains Are Greatest for Readers at Risk in Grades 1 Through 9

Ann-Christina Kjeldsen, Silja K. Saarento-Zaprudin, Pekka O. Niemi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Training in phonological awareness has brought about well-documented positive effects on learning to read in lower-primary grades. Less is known about long-term gains extending to upper-primary and junior high school. The few longitudinal studies covering at least 5 years suggest that gains in decoding are sustained, whereas effects on reading comprehension have either not been studied or produced equivocal results. The present study followed up the reading development of 209 Finland Swedish students from kindergarten until Grade 9, half of whom participated in an 8-month phonological intervention in kindergarten. The intervention group outperformed the control group in both word reading and reading comprehension in Grades 1 through 9. However, albeit statistically significant, the differences at the group level were small. The main result was a clear-cut difference in both skills among readers at risk belonging to the lowest 25% in foundational skills at the beginning of kindergarten. In Grade 6, altogether 60% of the nontrained readers at risk still belonged to the lowest quartile in reading comprehension as opposed to 24% of their peers in the intervention group. The pattern was repeated in Grade 9, with trained readers at risk performing at the level of nontrained mainstream readers.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)366–382
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Learning Disabilities
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • readers at risk
  • decoding
  • Grades K-9
  • reading comprehension

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