Reading is a very complex skill, involving not just the recognition of symbols (letters), but the range of sounds and combinations of the letters, the arrangement of the letters into syllables and meaningful words, the formation of phrases and sentences, the recognition and use of punctuation, and the ability to read with understanding of the context and meaning.
Here is a checklist you can download to use for assessing pre-reading and early reading skills:
There are some blank lines for you to add any extra aspects that you wish to assess.
Most of the terminology should be self-explanatory, but here is an explanation of some of the terms used in the list:
'Voiced' letters use the voice box: e.g. b, d, g, v, z;
'non-voiced' letters don't use the voice box: e.g. p, t, k, f, s
Directional confusion - e.g. reading from left to right, missing parts of text
Digraphs - 2 letters forming one sound – they can be consonants or vowels; e.g. vowel digraphs ay, ai, ee, ea; consonant digraphs sh, th, ch, ck, ng
"1st, medial, last sound in cvc word": a 'cvc' word is one formed from a consonant, a vowel and a consonant, e.g. c-a-t, d-o-g. Children need to be able to identify the sounds they hear in the word - the 1st sound, medial (middle) sound and last sound.
'short vowels' are: a as in at, e as in egg, i as in it, o as in off, u as in up
"talking" segments in text refers to speech segments, usually indicated by quotation or "talking" marks
Alliterating is forming phrases or sentences where most or all of the words begin with the same sound, e.g. "four fun frogs", messy Millie", "six silly snails sailed on six slippery sausages"
"Hearing incorrect/odd structure in sentence"- children need to be able to hear if they have made a mistake resulting in an incorrect sentence, e.g. if they read "the cat sat in mat", they should realise it's incorrect and go back to re-read the sentence
Varying volume and pitch - refers to using expression when talking and reading aloud, making the voice softer or louder, making it go up and down rather than just a monotone.
Non-word - refers to a 'word' that is not an actual real word, e.g. 'nonsense' words like fip, rog, lin, semp; these can be very useful (and fun) in helping children to decode words.
"own vocab" refers to a basic collection of words that child can read, and will vary with each child: usually the child's name, possibly other family names, plus simple, familiar words such as zoo, cat, a, the, I, Mum, Dad...
"weird words" refers to words that don't follow normal spelling rules or patterns; children need to be able to remember these by sight. Examples are: the, they, you, come, some, one, two