The Vocabulary of Reading

Lynne Kenney, PsyD.

Unlike many skills such as motor development (sitting, crawling, walking) that we are primed to learn via genetic code, reading is a skill we are not born with. Reading is a complex skill that entails understanding symbol-sound relationships, segmenting sounds, using visual-spatial skills to decode, and attaching meaning to symbols, sounds and words. Last but not least, we have to comprehend the words as they are strung together.

Consider all that can get in the way as we need to see, hear, write, comprehend and speak in order to "learn to read."

A lot of parents that have children struggling to read wonder, "why is this so hard for my child?"

No one can ever prepare a parent for the confusion that comes when their child appears to learn in a different way from other children. And sometimes, we forget that parents of our students may also be struggling to understand how to help their child.

One way to help engage parents in their child's educational journey is to make sure they understand the everyday lingo we use in our offices. Words such as phonemes, graphemes, and phonics may be a part of our daily vocabulary, but for many parents these words are foreign.

To help parents understand the components of reading, here's a worksheet you can provide them. It defines common words in speech language pathology and can help them feel more at ease when talking about their child's progress.

Download the worksheet: The Vocabulary of Reading

This blog was contributed by PESI speaker Lynne Kenney, PsyD, a mom, pediatric psychologist, international educator and co-author with Wendy Young of BLOOM: 50 Things to Say, Think and Do with Anxious, Angry and Over-the-Top Kids. Lynne integrates neuroscience, nutrition, exercise and music research to enhance brain function and learning in children. For more “Think it Out” “Walk it Out” and “Play it Out” ideas visit

Topic: Learning Disabilities

Tags: Reading

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