Phonics and Reading Comprehension: How do they connect?

I repeatedly hear from parents, “my child can read, but they don’t understand what they are reading.” It’s important to take a step back and think about the 5 components of reading and how do they tie in to reading comprehension.  In order for children to have strong verbal and written comprehension skills one must go back to the basics. There are 5  to reading components:

  • Phonemic Awareness– students have to be able to hear, identify, and manipulate sounds. They have to be able to segment (d-o-g) and blend sounds (dog)
  • Phonics– this is learned through explicit teaching (learning the 6 syllable types), children must understand letter-sound relationships, practice and review it, in order to internalize it.
  • Fluency– this is an area that doesn’t get attention. A child must read with expression, phrasing, and at a good rate.
  • Vocabulary– this includes social vs. academic language. Students pick up on social language very fast, it’s important that they use academic language as well.
  • Comprehension– Once students have all of the above, then comprehension can be focused on. If one of the above is missing, comprehension is limited. Some important components for teaching comprehension are learning to discuss a story and summarize, thinking out loud about a story, making predictions (children use their schema), and identifying story elements. All of these comprehension components should be modeled by an adult. It takes practice to understand a story.

(Think of the above components in a circle, Comprehension being in the middle and the other 4 surrounding it.)

Most importantly parents, read, read, read to your child. Enjoy their favorite stories! Make reading fun!

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