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Introducing Fundations

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Carmel Clay Schools is happy to announce the usage of Fundations in all of our elementary schools, grades K-3. Fundations is based on a body of educational research often referred to as the Science of Reading. Fundations incorporate the principles of instruction to increase achievement for all students, whether struggling, accelerated, or English language learners.  

What do you mean, “the Science of Reading?”

Let’s start at the beginning! The Science of Reading refers to the research that helps us understand how students best learn to read. To fully comprehend text, students need to be able to do two fundamental things: convert written words into speech (decode) and then understand that speech (language comprehension). If either one of these components is missing, reading comprehension will suffer.  

The best way to help students begin to read for themselves is to ensure they know how to decode. Children need to learn that words are made up of sounds (phonemes) and then teach them what the letters stand for. Unfortunately, the English writing system doesn’t make this easy, but it isn’t as irregular as one may think. Only 4% percent of all words in print are truly irregular - the rest can be decoded by learning the different rules and patterns that govern our English language.  

With focused instruction on these rules and patterns, we can make sure that students can easily transition from learning to read to reading to learn by the end of third grade.

Our Fundations curriculum supports this important work by providing our teachers and students with a multisensory, structured, and explicit curriculum based on the principles of the Science of Reading to ensure every student in CCS knows how to read (and spell)!   

What exactly is changing with CCS Instruction? 

Carmel Clay Schools has always taught phonics and phonological awareness (the ability to hear individual syllable sounds in words) as a part of our daily instruction. Academic standards for phonological awareness and phonics are found in all elementary grade levels, but the heaviest instructional emphasis of those foundational skills typically occurred in kindergarten and first grade. Taking our lead from the Science of Reading research, we determined that we needed to increase our intensity of this work in our K-1 classrooms and expand this work beyond those grade levels into advanced word study.  

Fundations provides the tools and techniques, alongside a well-articulated scope and sequence to ensure all students can read by the end of third grade. 

Students in grades K-3 will receive 30 minutes daily of direct, explicit instruction in:

  • Print concepts
  • Phonological/phonemic awareness 
  • Phonics & word study
  • Accuracy, automaticity, and fluency
  • High-frequency words
  • Handwriting (print in grades K-2, cursive in grade 3)
  • Spelling 

Will my child still get to read books? 

Yes! As students master phonics concepts, they will need daily opportunities to apply those concepts to their reading. One way they will do this is by using decodable texts - books with controlled phonetic word patterns. Students will also have ample opportunities to develop language comprehension and a love of reading through daily access to high-quality, authentic literature and nonfiction text.  

Is this the only reading and writing instruction my child will receive? 

No. Fundations is just one part of our language arts time. Teachers will also provide instruction to apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts - both literary and non-fiction. Instruction will also be provided in writing in the three genres (persuasive, informative, and narrative writing), the writing process, and writing mechanics. Speaking and listening skills will be threaded throughout the entire literacy block. 

How can I support this work at home? 

We know that when a child has a “coach” at home, in addition to a classroom teacher, the child makes significant progress. Your child’s classroom teacher will provide you with homelinks (either paper copies or linked through Canvas) at the beginning of each Fundations unit to help keep you informed of what is happening in the classroom and provide suggestions to guide what is happening at home. 

As your child’s reading coach you can: 

  • Read the Fundations letters sent home by your child’s teacher (via backpack or via Canvas link)
  • Set aside time to do the home activities with your child 
  • Share successes as well as concerns with your child’s teacher
  • Read engaging, high-quality texts to or with your child at home 
  • Engage in rich conversation with your child to help grow your child’s oral language comprehension skills 


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