Reading fluency is interconnected with comprehension. When we talk about the ability to read in a smooth manner, it is not only the pace of reading that is in focus. In fact, it is the overall ability of the child to decode, produce and comprehend the text that comes under consideration.
Can you imagine yourself reading a story with lots of pauses and breaks? Would it be fun?
No, of course.
Think of a child who is asked to read aloud during a reading assignment and she/he stumbles upon a lot of words, or fails to explain the meaning of the text. Reading aloud simply becomes a nightmare for this child.
In higher grades reading becomes even more demanding and challenging. If a child puts most of his efforts in reading the content, she/he will simply fall behind in studies.
Ability to read smoothly and effortlessly, plays a vital role in over all academic performance of the child. It plays a key role in many co-curricular activities as well, such as debates, singing, poetry, drama etc.
Equip your child with the essential academic skill called “Reading Fluency”. Don’t let reading pauses and breaks incumber his academic achievement.
Let us explore few effective ways of making a child confident, effortless and fluent reader.
But before that, it is important to discuss what reading fluency actually is.
What is Reading Fluency?
Reading fluency involves speed, accuracy and appropriate expression. A child is considered fluent reader if he reads in a good pace, accurately and with appropriate expression.
Comprehension and fluency go hand in hand. Reading with comfort and fluency facilitates the child in understanding the meaning of the text.
Child struggling with reading fluency
A child facing challenges with the reading fluency might sound awkward, choppy and unsteady. She/he might be experiencing:
- Difficulty in decoding words,
- Correctly pronouncing the words,
- Difficulty in using appropriate expressions while reading,
- Reading with too much effort, and/or
- Difficulty in comprehending the content being read.
Strategies to help your child read fluently
1. Work on the pre-requisite skills
In early grades, children get frustrated with the suddenly increased demands of reading tasks. It is important to observe if your child is able to decode words properly.
At times reading becomes extensively laborious because the child requires more practice in decoding. If you feel that your child takes longer time in;
- Sounding out letters,
- combining letters into words or,
- combining words into sentences.
You need to create more opportunities for him to practice these pre-requisite skills. You can spend more time with your child playing phonics, rhyming words and word guessing games.
Mastery in pre-requisite skills will help her/him in becoming a fluent reader.
Remember, expecting or encouraging your child to read faster, before she/he has acquired the basic skills, will frustrate her/him.
Make sure that she/he has become affluent with word recognition and feels confident while reading. After that you can encourage her/him to focus on intonation pattern, expression and speed.
2. Practice Reading
Different researches indicate that allowing your child to practice reading, helps with fluency.
A child has to utilize the following skills at an automatic level to be able to read fluently:
- She/he has to use the perceptual skills to translate letter into sounds,
- Use the lexical skills to combine discrete sounds of letters into word,
- Use the processing skills to establish links between words and sentences, and
- Use the previous knowledge to make interpretations about the expressions to be used while reading the text.
It is evident that without letting our child practice these skills, we cannot expect her/him to become comfortable with reading.
Allow your child to practice reading. Create a routine of reading for your child. Each day fix at least 30 minutes for reading practice. Allow her/him to select a book of her/his choice and read it to you or to his younger siblings. Make sure that you provide opportunities for silent self – reading as well.
You can provide her/him prompts and support when and where required. With practice, reading will become less laborious and more natural for your child.
3. Reading Aloud
Reading aloud is another research backed strategy which has been found to positively impact the reading proficiency of a child.
There can be different variants of reading aloud activity. For example;
- Initially, you can encourage your child to read aloud to you, while you provide support, correction and guidance where required.
- In second phase, she/he can practice reading aloud with a reading buddy, who can be a sibling or friend. In case, face to face interaction is not possible, you can have meeting with reading buddy virtually or online.
- Once you feel that your child has gradually improved in speed and accuracy, ask her/him to practice reading aloud to himself. Hearing her/himself read, will gradually improve the expression in reading. Your child will gradually learn to read as if she/he is talking to someone, with proper intonation pattern.
4. Structured Reading
There are different reading programs available to improve child’s reading in a structured way. Giving a structure to an activity simply makes it more predictable and measurable.
Providing regular feedback and recording progress make it easier for the child to monitor and regularize his performance.
Even if you are not enrolled into a formal reading program, by following these steps, you can design a simple yet structured reading program yourself.
- Select content at different difficulty levels. You can simply do it by selecting books of different grade levels.
- Start reading from the text that is slightly below your child’s reading level.
- Let the child select a paragraph of her/his choice. Length can be around 100 – 150 words initially, and gradually you can increase it up to 350 words.
- Ask her/him to read the passage, while you note down the time. Also note down the accuracy of reading, by simply noting down the incorrectly read words.
- Now allow your child to practice reading by re-reading the passage many times.
- Once the child is sure that she/he has practiced it enough, take the reading test again. Do not forget to record the time and accuracy.
As you move on, gradually increase the text difficulty level. Spend approximately 30 minutes daily for this exercise. You will observe a noticeable improvement in your child’s reading fluency within a month.
5. Practice Intonation and expression
Expression is an important component of reading fluency. Following strategies can help your child in practicing right intonation pattern and expression:
- Demonstrate correct expression and intonation pattern by reading aloud to your child. Let her/him follow you in reading and match your intonation pattern. This direct instruction allows for prompt guidance and correction.
- Provide recorded reading samples to the child and let her/him practice reading by following it.
- Encourage the child to focus on prompts or punctuations in text for taking required pauses. You can also re-type selected text and help the child in following punctuations and prepositions to adapt intonation accordingly.
- You can give text with different moods for reading practice, for example text with happy, sad or angry mood.
6. Improve comprehension
Reading fluency is interconnected with comprehension. This is why, reading fluency greatly impacts the academic achievement of the child across subject areas.
While working on the reading fluency of your child, do not forget to focus on comprehension. At the end of the structured reading or reading aloud practice, ask questions about what has been read.
Let your child describe what she/he understood from the text being read. If you want to make it more enriching and effective, ask her/him to write down a summary after reading a text.
This exercise will help in making your child more alert while reading. It will also improve her/his critical thinking and writing skills.
If you want your child to become fluent in reading, let her/him practice reading. It will be effective if you model fluent reading and provide guidance where required. Make sure you do not let reading activities feel laborious or boring.