Phonological awareness is the ability to recognise that words are made up of a variety of sound units, including syllables, rhyme, and phonemes.
Phonemic awareness is the ability to recognise the individual sounds in words known as phonemes. Strong phonemic awareness allows a person to isolate, manipulate, blend and segment sounds to read and spell.
Phonics is the understanding of the relationship between the sounds of spoken language and the letters and letter combinations (spellings) that represent those sounds. Children use these relationships to read and spell both familiar and unfamiliar words.
Vocabulary development is a vital component of beginning reading. When a child comes to a word and sounds it out, they are also determining if the word makes sense in the sentence. Vocabulary development plays a crucial role in reading comprehension. Readers cannot understand the content of what they are reading unless they understand the meaning of the majority of words in the text.
Reading fluency is the ability to read words and text accurately and efficiently. If a child does not read fluently, he/she takes longer to “get the words off the page” and this taxes memory, affecting their ability to understand what they are reading. Reading is hard work, not meaningful, and therefore avoided.
Reading comprehension refers to how well a person understands and interprets what they read. Children need to be able to use the skills outlined above, combined with memory, to be able to understand the ideas presented in a text, link it to their prior knowledge of the subject and use higher order thinking skills. These skills include finding the main ideas, questioning, clarifying, summarising, making predictions and inferences, and drawing conclusions.
In many cases, poor reading can be due to an underlying cognitive issue relating to memory, attention and/or processing skills. These skills are also examined as they are vital to understanding the child’s literacy profile and informing the intervention plan.