Phonics instruction plays a key role in helping children comprehend text.
You see, phonics instruction helps the child to map sounds onto spellings. This ability enables children to decode words. Decoding words aids in the development and improvement in word recognition. The more words a reader recognises, the easier the reading task.
Therefore, phonics instruction aids in the development of word recognition by providing children with an important and useful way to figure out unfamiliar words while reading.
When children begin to be able to recognize a large number of words quickly and accurately, reading fluency improves. Reading fluency refers to the ease with which children can read a text. As more and more words become firmly stored in a child’s memory (that is, the child recognises more and more words on sight), he or she gains fluency and automaticity in word recognition.
To learn words by sight, it’s critical that students have many opportunities to decode words in text. The more times a reader encounters a word in text, the more likely he or she is to recognise it by sight and avoid making a reading error.
Reading fluency improves reading comprehension. Since children are no longer struggling with decoding words, they can devote their full attention (their mental energies) to making meaning from text. As the vocabulary and concept demands increase in text, children need to be able to devote more and more attention to making meaning from text, and increasingly less attention to decoding. If children have to devote too much time to decoding words, their reading will be slow and labored. This will result in comprehension difficulties.