Preschoolers are busy learning and growing at an incredible pace every day. You’re probably noticing big changes in your little one’s speech—kids this age often have a deeper understanding of their world than we think. (And, of course, at other times they make hilarious mistakes with words and concepts!)
Learning to read is a huge job, and it involves several key parts. Here’s an overview of what goes into the process and how you can help your preschooler head into school with a firm foundation of essential reading skills.
Phonemic awareness is the knowledge that spoken words can be broken apart into smaller chunks of sound. These units of sound are called phonemes. Here’s an example: the word bat is made of three phonemes: the sounds “b,” “a,” and “t.” When kids know that these three sounds are part of the word bat, they are showing that they have phonemic awareness.
Phonics connects the knowledge of sounds (also called phonemes) to letter symbols. Here’s an example: The letter X looks like “X” and makes the sound “ks.”
Fluency is the ability to read words smoothly, at a good pace, and with expression. Here’s an example. If a character is very excited, the reader’s voice should sound excited, too. The child should not have to stop to sound out each word; the words should flow smoothly.
Vocabulary is the dictionary in your child’s mind. The more word meanings your child knows, the larger her vocabulary.
Comprehension is understanding what a story is all about. Here’s an example. Being able to identify the main characters in a story, talk about what they do and how they feel, and explain what happens during the beginning, middle, and end of a story are all important parts of reading comprehension.