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Word Decoding

The Importance of Pre-Reading Skills for Preschoolers: A Focus on Word Decoding

Pre-reading skills are essential for young preschoolers as they form the foundation for their literacy development. Preschoolers who are introduced to pre-reading activities early on are more likely to develop stronger reading skills later in life. Among the essential pre-reading skills is word decoding, which refers to the ability to break down words into their individual sounds and recognise them. In this article, we will explore the context of pre-reading for preschoolers and the importance of word decoding skills.

What is Pre-Reading for Preschoolers?

Pre-reading skills for preschoolers encompass a range of activities that introduce them to the world of books and reading. These skills include the following:

Phonological Awareness

Phonological awareness involves the ability to recognise and manipulate the sounds that make up words. It includes activities such as rhyming, blending, segmenting, and manipulating sounds in words. Phonological awareness is an essential pre-reading skill as it helps preschoolers to break words down into smaller parts, making it easier for them to decode them.

Vocabulary Development

Vocabulary development is another crucial pre-reading skill for preschoolers. It involves introducing preschoolers to new words and concepts that they may not have encountered before. Activities that support vocabulary development include reading books, singing songs, and playing word games.

Print Awareness

Print awareness involves the ability to understand that words and letters have meaning and convey messages. Preschoolers who are print-aware can recognise letters and words, and understand that they are read from left to right and top to bottom.

Narrative Skills

Narrative skills refer to a preschooler’s ability to understand and create stories. Activities that support narrative skills include storytelling, retelling stories, and predicting what may happen next in a story.

Why is Word Decoding Important for Preschoolers?

Word decoding is an essential pre-reading skill for preschoolers as it helps them to read and comprehend written language. When preschoolers are able to decode words, they can recognise familiar words quickly, sound out unfamiliar words, and understand what they are reading. Here are some reasons why word decoding is crucial for preschoolers:

Improved Reading Skills

Preschoolers who develop strong word decoding skills are more likely to become proficient readers. When preschoolers can decode words quickly and accurately, they are better able to focus on comprehension, which is essential for reading comprehension.

Increased Confidence

Preschoolers who struggle with word decoding may become frustrated and discouraged, leading to a lack of confidence in their reading ability. On the other hand, preschoolers who can decode words with ease are more likely to feel confident in their reading skills, which can encourage them to read more often.

Better Academic Performance

Strong word decoding skills are linked to better academic performance, particularly in literacy-based subjects such as English and History. Preschoolers who can read and comprehend written language are better able to engage with texts and understand the material being presented.

How to Develop Word Decoding Skills in Preschoolers?

There are several ways to develop word decoding skills in preschoolers. Here are some activities that can help:


Phonics involves teaching preschoolers the relationship between letters and sounds. By learning the sounds that each letter makes, preschoolers can decode words more easily. Phonics can be taught through games, songs, and activities that involve letter-sound recognition.

Sight Words

Sight words are words that preschoolers can recognise quickly and easily without having to decode them. These words are often used frequently in written language, such as “the,” “and,” and “is.” Teaching preschoolers sight words can help them to recognise familiar words quickly Word Families.

Word families are groups of words that have the same ending sound, such as “cat,” “hat,” and “mat.” By introducing preschoolers to word families, they can learn to recognise patterns in words and decode them more easily.

Decodable Books

Decodable books are books that are written with simple words and sound patterns that match what preschoolers are learning in phonics and word decoding. By reading decodable books, preschoolers can practice their word decoding skills in context.

Word Games

Word games such as Bingo, Scrabble, and Hangman can be a fun way to develop word decoding skills in preschoolers. These games encourage preschoolers to recognise letters and words and decode them in a fun and engaging way.

Pre-reading skills are crucial for preschoolers as they form the foundation for their literacy development. Word decoding is one of the essential pre-reading skills that preschoolers need to develop. By developing strong word decoding skills, preschoolers can become proficient readers, feel confident in their reading ability, and perform better academically. There are several activities that parents and educators can use to develop word decoding skills in preschoolers, including phonics, sight words, word families, decodable books, and word games. By introducing preschoolers to these activities, they can develop the skills they need to become successful readers in the future.

The Role of Phonological Awareness in Word Decoding

Phonological awareness is the ability to recognise and manipulate the sounds in words. This skill is a crucial component of word decoding, as it enables preschoolers to recognise and differentiate between individual sounds, and understand how they combine to form words. Phonological awareness also helps preschoolers develop strong phonics skills, as it enables them to decode unfamiliar words by sounding out each individual sound.

There are several activities that parents and educators can use to develop phonological awareness in preschoolers. One effective approach is to focus on rhyming words, as this helps preschoolers recognise and differentiate between similar sounds. For example, parents and educators can read books or sing songs that include rhyming words, and encourage preschoolers to identify and repeat the rhyming words. Another effective activity is phoneme segmentation, which involves breaking down words into their individual sounds. Parents and educators can use visual aids, such as picture cards, to help preschoolers identify and isolate each sound in a word. Other activities that can help develop phonological awareness include alliteration, syllable segmentation, and phoneme blending.

Using Technology to Support Pre-Reading Skills

Technology can be a powerful tool for supporting pre-reading skills in preschoolers. Digital apps and e-books can provide engaging and interactive learning experiences that help develop phonological awareness, vocabulary, and print awareness skills. However, it is important to choose high-quality, age-appropriate apps and resources that are based on research and best