It is the goal for all students to achieve the following four areas of reading skills in order to become the best reader that they can. Here is a description of all of these areas so you can further understand what your child needs to work on and achieve within their reading abilities.
Decoding is the ability to apply your knowledge of letter-sound relationships, including knowledge of letter patterns and to correctly pronounce written words. Understanding these relationships gives children the ability to recognize familiar words quickly and to figure out words they haven't seen before. Although children may sometimes figure out some of these relationships on their own, most children benefit from explicit instruction in this area. Phonics is one approach to reading instruction that teaches students the principles of letter-sound relationships, how to sound out words, and exceptions to the principles.
Fluency is the ability to read a text accurately, quickly, and with expression. Reading with fluency is when you read a few words at a time in phrases, which helps them to gain meaning from what they read. Fluent readers read aloud effortlessly and with expression. They change their voices to the characters in the stories and to the different kinds of punctuation. Their reading sounds natural, as if they are speaking. Readers who have not yet developed fluency read slowly, word by word. Their oral reading is choppy. Fluency is important because it provides a bridge between word recognition and comprehension. Because fluent readers do not have to concentrate on decoding the words, they can focus their attention on what the text means. They can make connections among the ideas in the text and their background knowledge. In other words, fluent readers recognize words and comprehend at the same time. Less fluent readers, however, must focus their attention on figuring out the words, leaving them little attention for understanding the text.
Comprehension is the understanding and interpretation of what is read. To be able to accurately understand written material, children need to be able to:
(1) Decode what they read
(2) Make connections between what they read and what they already know (prior knowledge)
(3) Think deeply about what they have read.
One big part of comprehension is having a sufficient vocabulary, or knowing the meanings of enough words. Readers who have strong comprehension are able to draw conclusions about what they read – what is important, what is a fact, what caused an event to happen, and how to come up with inferences (ideas) and support them with text evidence. Thus comprehension involves combining reading with thinking and reasoning.
RETELLING – (IT IS PART OF COMPREHENSION)
Retelling is when a child is to explain what they had just read, (silently to themselves). They retell what they read in sequence, (the beginning, middle and end of a passage). When it comes to reading fictional stories, we encourage children to say the character names, setting and the big events that happened. When a child reads informational texts, we encourage children to explain the main facts that they have learned about in a sequential order.
When a child can accurately retell what they read, (and with some detail), it shows they have a good understanding of the text. In other words, they demonstrate strong comprehension of the text.