To address the national reading crisis, as well as identify students at risk for dyslexia, the National Reading Panel identified the most effective components in teaching children to read: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.

Why do the components of reading matter? Research shows that performance in each component is key to a student’s future literacy. Without a comprehensive assessment, teachers often miss deficits, which can lead to students not receiving the help they need.

5 Components of Reading

Phonemic Awareness

Phonemes are the smallest units of speech sounds found in language. The ability to isolate, delete, blend, and manipulate phonemes in spoken syllables and words can begin as early as preschool. 


Phonics is the relationship between written letters and the sounds they represent in spoken language. Phonics uses these relationships, as well as combinations of letters and patterns, to read and spell words. Students typically begin learning their ABCs in preschool or even earlier.


Vocabulary is the understanding of individual words found in receptive and expressive language.  It can be learned incidentally or taught directly and indirectly. Vocabulary is often reflective of environmental factors, such as exposure to rich conversations and being read to, even at an early age. 


Fluency refers to the quick and automatic manner in which a student can recognize words accurately while retrieving the word’s meaning. Fluent reading allows more attention to be focused on understanding the text, leading to stronger comprehension.


Comprehension is the interpretation and understanding of what we hear and read. Comprehension begins as early as language is encountered.  

5 components. One best time to assess. Early.

Traditionally, we’ve waited until students were reading to screen for issues — even though the most current research proves interventions made in kindergarten and first grade can be four times more effective than those made later. Now we have a universal screener that makes all-important early assessment possible. Learn more about EarlyBird.

Get in touch for more information about EarlyBird today!