Reading is an important language skill that children learn to master early in their childhood education. However, some children struggle with some aspects of reading such as fluency.
If your child is struggling with reading, you might be wondering how to help my child with reading fluency at home? Getting extra practice in the skill can help your child get back on track if they are behind their reading level.
What is reading fluency?
Reading fluency is an important aspect of successfully reading. Reading fluency is being able to read a text quickly and being able to understand it fully. Reading fluency is composed of three skills:
- Speed– When we talk about speed in reading fluency, we are talking about how quickly your child can recognize words within a text. If they are often pausing to sound out words or asking for help with identifying words, then they likely need to work on their speed. However, speed also relies on another skill, accuracy.
- Accuracy – Accuracy has to do with actually being able to recognize words in a text correctly. This skill relies on the amount of vocabulary that your child has built as well as their skills in phonics. Speed and accuracy are closely related skills that work together in order for your child to read smoothly.
- Expression – Expression is your child’s ability to read texts like spoken language. They are able to recognize when to change their tone, accent, and pitch when they read aloud. This is a reflection of their reading comprehension as well.
Your child must be able to master all three of the skills and apply them simultaneously in order to achieve reading fluency. Achieving reading fluency leads to reading comprehension, which is when your child is able to actually understand and critically think about a text.
What factors affect fluency?
The development of fluency differs for children because of different factors that affect their learning. Many of these factors start before your child is even in school Some factors are:
- Concepts of print – Children learn to read fluently with pre-reading skills such as alphabet recognition. If children are able to recognize letters, they are one step closer to word identification. This also includes being able to identify the general layout of a book and how to read such as knowing the front and back of a book or knowing to read from left to right.
- Exposure to books – The more opportunities that children have to read the better off they will be when they begin learning to read on their own. Children who come from households that often have books or parents that read a lot are more likely to be successful in the skill themselves.
- Phonics – Phonics is being able to put together sounds to recognize words and create meaning within them. Phonics relies on phonemic and phonological awareness to be able to quickly decode words and contribute meaning to them.
- Sight words vocabulary – Sight words are the words that are most commonly used. These words in English might include “about”, “apple”, “he”, etc. They are high-frequency words and should be the words that your child learns first. The bigger their sight word vocabulary the easier and quicker they will be able to decode words.
Not all children are exposed to all of these factors and they may lack some fluency skills because of that. However, there are some easy strategies you can do at home that can help you improve your child’s reading fluency.
How can I improve my child’s reading fluency?
You can help improve your child’s reading fluency at home by practicing some strategies every day that can help them build the different skills needed to achieve fluency.
- Read together – Reading together can give your child a model of reading. This helps them get the individual guided reading they need that they might not be able to get in their classroom.
- Raise their phonemic awareness – Playing word games such as rhyming games can help your child improve their phonemic awareness. You can also play word form games that can help them distinguish the ways to identify different kinds of words such as nouns versus adjectives.
- Build sight word vocabulary – Word games can not only improve phonemic awareness but also build their sight vocabulary. Building their vocabulary helps to get them to work on their speed and accuracy, two out of the three key components to fluency.
- Practice extensive reading – Extensive reading is reading a large number of books for no purpose other than to enjoy reading. There is no goal of learning something as it is just reading for pleasure. This can help motivate your child to read more and thus practice their fluency more.
- Act out books – Using your child’s favorite books as a basis for playtime can help them learn to enjoy the stories they are reading. This fun activity also helps with improving their expression.
- Assisted reading – Assisted reading can help your child to learn new strategies in reading and also know where they specifically need to improve. While reading with your child is highly encouraged to help them improve their reading skills overall, you might not always be available to help your child. To help when you can’t, you can download reading apps such as Readability that provide reading help for your child whenever they need it.
Sometimes all a child needs to improve their reading is help. Readability uses A.I. technology and speech recognition to actually read with your child. They give instant feedback so your child knows how to improve. The app gives your child the option of reading aloud or having the app read to them as they follow along.