Learning 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.