As parents, we are always wondering how to help my child read more fluently. Luckily, there are some easy strategies to use at home that help them enjoy reading and be motivated in reading for fun.
Reading fluency is an important skill that helps your child to improve their other reading skills such as reading comprehension. Mastering fluency can help your child to understand what they are reading better.
What is fluency?
Fluency is being able to read “smoothly”. Essentially, your child should not be pausing at too many words while trying to read through. Fluency relies on these factors:
- Accuracy – Accuracy refers to how well your child can instantly recognize words. This is the first step in fluency because it involves actually decoding letters and recognizing words such as sight words.
- Speed – When we are talking about speed in reading fluency, we are talking about how quickly your child can recognize words in a text. Speed by itself does not make a good reader. A fast reader might not necessarily understand what they are reading.
- Expression (or prosody) – This is how well your child adds pitch, tone, and volume appropriately when they read aloud. Usually, expression comes as a result of reading comprehension. The better they understand a text the more comfortable they become reading and they are able to add more expression.
When should a child read fluently?
The rate of when children are able to read fluently does vary. On average, most kids are able to read independently and fluently by the end of third grade, which is around when they are 9-10 years old. Children at this age are able to read simple sentences and storybooks.
By age 11-13, your child should begin to use reading as a learning tool. Most of their learning will come from reading. And reading will be mostly for schoolwork such as textbooks. So, if they are struggling with reading at this age, they are more likely to struggle with other subjects as well. This is because their reading comprehension might be low and thus they are not able to understand what they are reading.
What to do when your kids do not read fluently?
If you find that your child is struggling with reading, the sooner you can get them help the better. Most children that get reading intervention help early on end up reading at their appropriate level later. Here are some things you can do at home to help your child read more fluently:
- Build sight words vocabulary– The first step in helping your child with improving their accuracy is to build their vocabulary with sight words. Sight words are the most commonly used words in a language such as “the”, “he”, “she”, or “run”. The more sight words your child knows the easier it will be for them to recognize them in a text.
- Echo read – Echo reading is a great way for you to model good reading for your child. When the two of you are reading a book together, read one sentence then have them read that same sentence. This gives them a chance to listen to the sentence being read and also practice reading it themselves. This exercise can especially help with expression.
- Build phonemic awareness skills– Phonemic awareness skills can help your child with their accuracy and speed. Play rhyming games and word games that help with recognizing sounds in words. You can even find some reading apps that target improving phonemic awareness.
- Use reading apps– There are a ton of reading apps that are designed to make reading fun for kids. Readability is a great app that helps with improving fluency. The app can help with all three factors of fluency. Readability uses speech-recognition technology to listen to your child read aloud and recognize errors they make then gives them instant feedback. Your child can also listen to the app read the story to them, so they can follow along as they read.
- Reread books– Rereading books is a great way to improve fluency because your child is able to see their progress and how much better they are becoming when they read the same books over and over. This helps them build their speed and accuracy.
- Give them a break – If your child is struggling while reading and getting frustrated, it’s not a bad idea to give them a break. Spending too much time on a text that they are stuck on can end up making them want to give up. Keep reading instruction at home brief and stick to just 20 mins per day of reading instruction. You can give them the option to keep going, read a book independently, or just stop and do something else.
Helping your child to read more fluently is easier than you think, but it does take time. Make sure to make their practice time fun and motivating by playing games or using apps like Readability that makes reading fun and interactive. Using helpful strategies frequently can help them learn to read more fluently.