Let’s talk about Reading Fluency!

Reading Fluency is one of the next aspects of reading that gets developed as a reader becomes more experienced with text. Reading fluency is defined as the rate and accuracy at which a reader is able to read text (silently or aloud). As students grow and continue to practice their reading skills and become better readers, the expectation is that their ability to read becomes more accurate and they begin to read at a faster pace. Even though their pace is increasing, because they are reading accurately, they continue to understand what they have read. Another trait of a good reader is that they adjust their reading rate depending on what they are reading.

Think of reading as an adult: for most of us, reading is second nature. It’s something we almost don’t have to think about. We read words accurately and quickly. We adjust our reading rate when the text contains information that may be outside of our wheelhouse and we understand what we have read. The hope is that students begin to develop these skills around third grade and continue to hone them as they are exposed to higher level texts and are taught to “read to learn” instead of “learn to read”.

A student that continues to struggle to decode words will read at a laborious pace, making many errors along the way. These two in combination can impact a student’s understanding of what they have read, as well as make them want to avoid reading altogether.

What are things parents can do to help their child’s reading fluency?

Model good reading aloud

  • Practice reading high frequency words (google high frequency words for your child’s grade level)
  • Have your child read and reread (and reread) passages and books that seem easy for him/her. Practicing reading at an easy reading level can boost word recognition.
  • Talk with your child about adjusting reading rate – think about how you read different types of text: fiction books, newspapers, owner’s manuals, science articles. You adjust your rate based on what you are reading and your child should too.
  • Have your child select high interest books – if your child is interested, they are more likely to keep reading when text becomes difficult
  • Have your child read aloud to you – take turns. You read a page, your child reads a page.
  • Provide your child with corrective feedback when they do make errors (model sounding out a word when they are unsure).
  • Listen to books on tape – the key here, though, is to have your student follow along in the actual book as they listen.
  • Ask your child questions after they have read (where did the story take place? Who is the main character? How did he/she feel? – any questions you can think of to gauge understanding because understanding of text is the whole point of reading).

What are some things you do at home to support the development of your child’s reading fluency?

–Lee Sizer, M. Ed

Educational Diagnostician

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