Fluency: What It Is and Why It’s Important

Fluency: What It Is and Why It's Important  |  Red Apple ReadingFluency can be broken down into 3 components: the ability to read a passage accurately (without having to stop and decode individual words), at a reasonable pace (not too fast or too slow), and with proper expression (paying attention to punctuation). Let’s explore the different facets of fluency and how you can help your child master each one. For convenience, we’ve listed individual interventions under each component, but you’ll quickly find that these activities are beneficial for all aspects of fluency!

Accuracy
It’s imperative for children to read accurately if they are going to have any real sense of what a passage is about.

  • Review Unfamiliar Words – You can help your child with this aspect of fluency by going over any new words with her before she reads the text. If she is reading a book about birds, for instance, you might introduce the word chickadee beforehand.
  • Repeated and Timed Readings – Another way you can help your little one improve her accuracy is with timed repeated readings. Simply set a timer for one minute. Let your kiddo read the same passage aloud to you several times, while keeping up with how many words she gets correct each time. Chances are you will see improvement with each reading!

Pace
Pace is another critical component of fluency. Reading should be performed at a reasonable rate.

  • Repeated and Timed Readings – Yep, the above timed reading activity will help your kid with pace as well! When children don’t have to stop and decode individual words, their pace naturally improves.
  • Record – One way you can assist your child with pace is by allowing her to record herself reading aloud (you’ll notice all these interventions involve reading aloud – it’s important!). Many times children don’t realize how slowly or quickly they are reading. When they go back and listen to themselves, they will get a better idea of whether they need to slow down or speed up.

Expression
Reading with expression involves paying attention to punctuation and the mood of the story. Reading with feeling makes the text more enjoyable and aids in comprehension.

  • Model by Reading Aloud – One of the ways kids learn to read with expression is by hearing someone else read with expression. This is one of a thousand reasons why parents should read aloud to their children. When we read a story to our kids they pick up on the nuances of our speech patterns and learn how expressive reading sounds.
  • Echo Reading – This intervention builds on the previous one. You will read a sentence or passage aloud using appropriate expression, then your kid will “echo read” the same passage (trying his best to sound like you).

As your child’s fluency improves she can begin reading more advanced texts and choosing titles that interest her rather than simple, decodable books. This will lead to a greater love of reading! Visit our Finding Fluency Pinterest board for more ideas on developing fluency.

Fostering Fluency

Finding FluencyLearning to read fluently is another key element in the reading process. In order for your kiddo to truly comprehend and enjoy what he’s reading, he needs to acquire fluency—the ability to read words and sentences accurately, at a reasonably quick pace, without the need to stop and decode individual words. Your child’s comprehension and enjoyment of a story will increase once she achieves reading fluency.

Perhaps the most important way children develop an understanding of fluency is by hearing text read to them. Reading to your child regularly provides a good model of how fluent reading sounds.

 

Here are some ways Red Apple Reading recommends to model fluent reading for your child:

  • Read out loud rapidly (but not too rapidly!).  If a child reads a sentence too slowly, he will not be able to synthesize meaning within “working memory.” On the flip side, if a child reads too fast, he may skip over words or miss important grammar cues within the text. Modeling an appropriate reading pace is a key piece to fostering fluency!
  • Pay attention to punctuation.  Point out how your voice changes and how you pause when you read. Emphasize words when a character in a book is shouting, or phrase a sentence like a spoken question when it ends in a question mark. This provides good modeling for children, demonstrating the importance of paying attention to punctuation and to the “flow” of a story. Scholastic recommends reading Yo! Yes? with your kiddo. This story is designed to provide plenty of punctuation reading practice!
  • Have your child practice with you.  You can read a sentence of text at a good pace, with appropriate phrasing, paying attention to punctuation, and then ask your child to read the sentence in the same way you did. This gives your child the chance to read with fluency without taking extra time to identify or decode words. Practicing with fluency strips as suggested by Primary Junction is a great way to rehearse fluency!
  • Encourage repeated readings of favorite stories.  As your child becomes familiar with a book, she might be able to begin imitating correct inflection and expression, repeating phrases after you or anticipating them. While reading the same story over and over might seem tedious to you, it’s actually good for fostering your child’s reading fluency!

Once your child gets a taste of what it means to actually read and understand a story independently, then the sky is the limit! As her vocabulary and fluency continue to grow, she’ll begin reading more advanced texts and be able to choose titles that interest her rather than simple, decodable books. Then you can begin to foster a real love of reading that will last your child a lifetime! Visit our Finding Fluency Pinterest board for more ideas on developing fluency.

 

Fostering Fluency – Reading Essentials #20

Fostering Fluency - Reading Essentials #20 | Red Apple ReadingCan you imagine trying to read a good novel and having to stop to sound out every other word? How frustrating would that be? Well, that’s exactly the challenge your little one faces as he strives to become a proficient reader. In order to truly comprehend and enjoy what he’s reading, he will need to acquire fluency—the ability to read words and sentences accurately, at a reasonably quick pace, and without the need to stop to decode individual words. Once your child can read fluently, he can then focus on the meaning of the text, rather than the tedious task of sounding out words.

One important way in which children develop an understanding of fluency is by hearing text read to them. Read to your child regularly, providing a good model of how fluent reading sounds.

You can model fluent reading for your child by:

  • Reading out loud rapidly (though not too rapidly!): One of the reasons fluency is an important skill for young readers to develop is because it is necessary to read at a certain speed in order to comprehend text. If a child reads a sentence too slowly, he or she will not be able to synthesize meaning within “working memory.” On the flip side, if a child reads too fast, he or she may skip over words or miss important grammar cues within the text.
  • Reading with appropriate expression: Read expressively, and point out how your voice changes and how you pause when you read, for example, emphasizing words when a character in a book is shouting, or phrasing a sentence like a spoken question when it ends in a question mark. This can provide good modeling for children, demonstrating the importance of paying attention to punctuation and to the “flow” of a story.
  • Encouraging your child to repeat after you read: You can read a sentence of text at a rapid (but not too rapid) pace, with appropriate phrasing, and paying attention to punctuation, and then ask your child to read the sentence in the same way you did. This can give your child the chance to read with fluency without taking extra time to identify or decode words.
  • Encouraging repeated readings of favorite stories: As your child becomes familiar with a text, he or she might be able to begin imitating correct inflection and expression, repeating phrases after you or anticipating them. It is more than okay to read books with your child over and over!

You can find more activities to foster your child’s fluency at Education.com.

Once your child gets a taste of what it means to actually read and understand a story independently, then the sky is the limit! As her vocabulary and fluency continue to grow, she’ll begin reading more advanced texts and be able to choose titles that interest her rather than simple, decodable books. Then, you can begin to foster a real love of reading that will last your child a lifetime!