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I am the author, creator, and Mom behind Dyslexia Mom Life.

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You feel frustrated and exhausted (literally most nights) before, during, and after homework with your child. The struggle is real, right? When your child is struggling to learn to read, then it impacts her schoolwork and homework. . . and to be honest, the entire family dynamics. You feel like your only option is to follow what the teacher has asked you to do, but it just does not seem to be helping your daughter learn to read. Did you know there are 5 components of reading (phonemic awareness, phonics, reading fluency, vocabulary development, and reading comprehension)?

I have been there . . . I can remember when our daughter, Haddie, was in kindergarten and we were so excited for her to start school.  At first, Haddie loved school.  Then she started “learning” sight words.  Haddie just could not remember the sight words.  On more than one Thursday night, we would sit on the floor practicing the sight words with little success and cry together.  Then other times I would get frustrated with her when she would act silly and not “try” to say the words.  Little did I know at the time that she was already developing coping strategies (being silly to distract me from the fact she couldn’t memorize the sight words).

Where is your child “stuck” in the reading process or what most call “breaking the code” to learn to read? Did you know there are 5 components of reading your child must master to be a successful reader? These reading components are research-based. The components follow an order, so each one builds on the previous one. No worries, I am going to review them with you.


  1. Phonemic Awareness
  2. Phonics
  3. Reading Fluency
  4. Vocabulary Development
  5. Reading Comprehension

If your child has other difficulties learning to read (for us it was speech articulation), then you may need additional resources or help from a specialized tutor or therapist (speech, OT, PT).


When you think about phonemic awareness, it is the ability to hear the sounds that words make.  This is at the verbal level.  Children have to hear the sounds in a word.  So when learning the sounds for cat, the child must be able to break the sounds out for the first (c), middle (a), and last (t) sound in isolation.  (Did you know that the smallest parts of sounds are called phonemes?)


When children are learning phonics, the child is learning the relationship of the sounds (learned in phonemic awareness) with the written letters.  Your son or daughter will begin to recognize individual letters and groups of letters with the sounds that they make.  You may see your child begin to decode words.  The relationships between words and sounds will help children to read and spell words.

When talking with your child’s school be aware that there is some debate as to whether phonics or whole language is the best way for students to learn to read. Ask your child’s teacher what approach the school’s reading curriculum is based on for that grade (get the name of the curriculum and double-check on the program’s website).

In whole language, children are not taught the sound of words or letters.  The focus is on the meaning of the word.  However, scientific research has proven that children who are struggling to read (dyslexic students included) learn to read best through phonics (and these 5 essential components of reading).

At our house, this is where we are . . . still working on breaking the code to read.  Each child develops at a different rate with his or her reading, so be patient and supportive – it literally just takes time (and lots of it in our house).  One of Haddie’s teachers recently reminded us that this journey is more of a marathon than a sprint.  We are learning to celebrate the small victories.


When a child recognizes the meaning and pronunciation of words, the child begins to build her vocabulary.  Children will also understand how to use their words.  A child’s vocabulary is closely connected with her reading comprehension.


When reading accurately and quickly, a child has reading fluency.  It is the ability to read like you talk.  To comprehend and understand what is being read a child must read with fluency (without having to stop a decode each word).  Without this skill, a child reads words in isolation without comprehension.

When Haddie was in first grade, we read a lot to her.  So, her comprehension and vocabulary is above grade level.  But, she continues to struggle to read for comprehension on her own as she is busy trying to decode each word (pronounce the word and give it meaning). Think about how frustrating it must be to work so hard to sound out the words and then realize you have no idea what the sentence meant that you just read.


Reading comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading – to read independently and understand what you read.  In school, a child learns to read and then reads to learn.  It is essential to all other subjects in school and life.  A child must acquire strategies to understand, recall, and communicate what is read to master reading comprehension

When you understand the reading components, it is much easier to understand what is needed at home and school.  When you think about what is all required for our kids to learn to read, it is amazing to think about how our brains work (and that any of us have learned to read at such early ages). You can also appreciate the struggle your son is going through to learn to read and try to remember it is a process when you get frustrated, lose your patience, and just want to give up. (Give yourself some grace – this is not easy!)

P.S. I would love to hear from you.  How can I help?  Let’s chat – email me – Nicole