Monday, May 21, 2012

5 Components of Reading

I can't tell you how many times I have met with parents and they were absolutely SHOCKED at their child's reading level.

"But, my third grader is reading books at a sixth grade level."

Or, it would go the other way...

"But, he reads so sloooooowwww. He can't be able to read a book that difficult."

Most parents don't realize that there are actually 5 Components of Reading, and teachers must look at all five when determining a child's reading level. It'd be like saying that someone is a great swimmer if he could only hold his breath under water for over a minute, without actually being able to take a single stroke. Being able to hold your breath under water is only ONE skill you need in order to become a great swimmer. Children need to meet grade-level standards for all 5 components of reading to be considered "on grade level."

  1. Phonemic Awareness - the knowledge and manipulation of SOUNDS in spoken words. (I already had a post with information about this.)
  2. Phonics - the relationship between written and spoken sounds and words. For example, the letter k makes the hard /k/ sound. 
  3. Fluency - the pace, accuracy, expression and phrasing at which a child reads. Not too fast. Not too slow. Not robotic. Not choppy. 
  4. Vocabulary - knowledge of words and their meanings within context. In context is important. A "sista," (close female friend) is different than a "sister" (an actual sibling). Vocabulary is also different in a formal setting vs. informal. 
  5. Comprehension - The understanding of meaning in text. 
Of course, within all of these components there is a breakdown of rudimentary and more difficult skills. But, these are just the basic components. 

Now, even if your child is preschool aged, there are things you can do to foster learning in each of these categories. (That's what my blog is all about!) He'll start school with an advantage, even if he doesn't actually start reading until kindergarten. 

Someone asked in response to a previous post, "What is the current best practice for teaching reading?" The answer to that would be a balanced approach. Everything in moderation, right? Don't hammer on phonics and forget that kids need to be taught an appreciation of books in order to promote comprehension. Likewise, don't just ignore working on phonemic awareness and phonics because your child just wants to be read to because he "likes listening to stories." Many, if not all, primary reading skills can be worked on through play and hands-on activities, so he can have just as much fun working on phonics skills. 

I apologize for not having any tips or ideas in this post that you can take away with you and use right away, but this is the foundation to teaching a child how to read. I needed to put it out there, so we can all have it to refer back to! Also, this post was short on jokes. So, here you go...

What's green and has wheels?

Grass. I lied about it having wheels. 

I know. I could do better, but the girl child just woke up from her nap, so I am out of time! 

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