Reading commences with a child being able to identify individual letters (sounds of the alphabet). Once they can confidently name the sounds, they are able to start blending and segmenting those sounds into words.

Children with delay in alphabet knowledge will find that their literacy abilities (spelling, reading and writing) will be potentially inhibited by this lack of knowledge. Evidence shows that this difficulty of linking a symbol to a sound can lead to a delay in academic performance (Kamhi, Allen & Catts, 2001).

Teaching a child the alphabet sounds should follow a similar sequence to this: ‘S,A,T,P,I,N,M,D,G,O,C,K’ as these sounds are considered to be of high frequency and functionality in the English Language (Kinza, 2014).

These sounds are the most commonly written and read sounds so they should be targeted first (Konza, 2014). Combined with this approach to spelling and writing, Cued Articulation can be used (Passy, 2003). This allows children to be supported with visual prompts, such as hand gestures, to show the placing, manner and voicing of the English phonemes (sounds).

A multi-sensory approach often works best with children struggling to learn.
Reading fluency is the ability to read with speed, accuracy and expression. Reading fluency is affected by a child’s rapid recall of the alphabet sounds. Efficient and quick segmenting and blending of sounds allows a child to comprehend texts more easily.

If children are not fluent in reading, they will be hindered in being able to make connections in what they are reading and hence unable to comprehend. If a child has to continually stop and sound out words, then their ability to understand what they are reading is potentially limited.