This morning my daughter (6) successfully decoded the words “exotic” & “species” when she saw them in print for (I assume) the first time. She struggled to get halfway through exotic and then suddenly she got it.
“Ex… ex-OAT… ex-AH… exotic!” She succeeded, to make an obvious but important point, because she already knew those words. Once she got half-way through the word she didn’t have to decode the end of it. Decoding a word you don’t know is a MUCH bigger ask than decoding one you do know, and she knew those words because I read complex, advanced texts to her all the time.
The lesson for teachers and parents: read to your kids texts that are significantly more complex than they can read on their own. It builds their vocabulary for the long haul and is highly synergistic with decoding… and thus early success with reading.
Note read from soap box: Reading aloud to kids happens too infrequently in schools and when it does the text is often too simplistic. When you read aloud, read what they will read to themselves in the future. My best guess is three or four or five years hence, but that last part is conjecture.