The Five Components of Reading
Learning to read is one of the most important skills children can learn. When your child takes their first steps in their learning to read journey, it’s important to keep in mind the five essential components of reading that every child needs in order to grow into a confident and fluent reader.
- Phonics is the process of mapping the sounds in words to written letters. This is one of the earliest reading skills children should develop, because it introduces them to the link between letters and sounds, known as the alphabetic principle.
2. Phonemic awareness
- Children develop phonemic awareness by learning about sounds (phonemes), syllables and words. Every word in the English language is made up of a combination of individual units of sound, known as phonemes. For example, the word ‘crab’ is made up of four individual units of sound; c/r/a/b. Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify and manipulate these individual units of sound. It is one of the most fundamental skills children need to acquire in order to learn how to read.
Having an ever-increasing vocabulary is a fundamental part of academic and reading success. The more words we know, the better we become at reading and understanding the texts that we read. Every child approaches reading with varying abilities. The larger a child’s speaking and listening vocabulary, the more words they will be able to add to their reading and writing vocabularies with relative ease. Reading a wide variety of books is one of the best ways for a child to grow their vocabulary. Some of the most fundamental words that a child will learn when starting to read are sight words. These include high frequency sight words such as ‘on’, ‘I’, ‘the’, ‘and’, ‘is’, ‘an’ and ‘be’. The first 100 sight words make up more than fifty per cent of most texts for early readers, and are therefore extremely beneficial for your child to learn early on in their reading journey.
There is a range of different skills that build reading fluency in young children. These include strong phonic decoding skills, an expanding bank of high frequency words recognized at sight, and the amount of time that children spend reading books at an appropriate level. The more children read, the better they are at understanding and reading with speed and accuracy. Fluency enables readers to quickly span the gap between recognizing a word and understanding its meaning. Since fluent readers no longer need to concentrate on decoding the words on a page, they can enjoy the freedom of focusing on the *meaning* conveyed by words and sentences. Fluency is something that comes as a child develops their phonemic awareness, phonics skills and vocabulary. Regular reading practice is essential to developing reading fluency. It’s also helpful to note that by reading aloud regularly to your child, you can provide them with a vocal model to help them understand what fluent reading sounds like.
5. Reading Comprehension
Great readers are deeply immersed in the stories they read. They visualize the characters, they hear the dialogue in their heads, and they imagine details beyond the borders of the page. Great readers think about what is happening in a story and share the emotional journey of the characters.In nonfiction books, great readers gain new information, increase their vocabulary, and link what they read with other sources of information in order to deepen their level of understanding of new concepts and topics. These are all indicators that your child has a full and rich comprehension of the texts they read. It is a complex skill that requires time and practice to develop fully, but inevitably reaps great rewards. It’s no secret that reading for meaning is the ultimate goal of learning to read. Comprehension is a skill that will not only affect a child’s future reading ability, but also their academic ability throughout school and beyond. Encouraging your child to talk about what they read is a great way to both monitor how much they understand and improve their comprehension skills.