• Raffi Bandarian

Top 3 Ways to Build Reading Fluency

Updated: Mar 10

According to a review by the National Reading Panel, reading fluency matters. The purpose of reading is to comprehend and to do so, readers must be fluent. The National Reading Panel reviewed key factors required for reading success and found five areas educators should focus on to teach reading. So, can reading fluency - one of the five key areas - be taught? Yes, through repeated, corrective oral reading practice.

The old-fashioned method of reading instruction that many parents remember from their elementary school days is reading out loud in class while other students listened and waited for their turn. This round-robin style of reading is not helpful, and it also does not contribute to students' learning.

Fluent readers are not necessarily fast readers. They read words on a page correctly at a steady pace with expression that shows they understand the meaning behind the words. Children who read in a laborious manner, slowing down or stopping often, changing or skipping words, and reading with no rhythm or intonation may struggle with reading comprehension. Lack of fluency adds extra stress to completing every school assignment as the time it takes a child to complete homework is longer than the norm.

A small percentage who labor over reading can have amazing comprehension. However, these students are not the norm.

Teachers do their part. But what about at home, what can parents do to support their child’s fluent reading? Here are three ways to build reading fluency at home:

1. Read aloud daily

Research consistently shows the immense benefits of oral reading practice. Even 10 minutes per night can make a large difference in allowing children to become proficient readers. Taking turns reading out loud by page or paragraph is a good way to get in some practice.

Young readers may prefer silent reading over reading aloud, but studies show that in and of itself, silent reading does not build reading fluency, especially for struggling readers.

2. Repetition

It may be boring but repeat reading builds reading fluency. Over time, gains can be expected in accuracy, fluency, and prosody. Studies show that repeated readings of the same text help kids become better readers in general.

3. One-on-one feedback

A young student who reads inaccurately is bound to struggle with the meaning of the text. For this reason and more, corrective feedback is required. Whether with a teacher, parent, grandparent, or reading specialist, having a child read out loud with gentle, reassuring feedback has shown to be important for improving reading fluency.

The guidance and coaching of a trained educational therapist can make the difference in helping a child reach this important cornerstone of their reading development.

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