How To Help 1st Grader Read Fluently

February 17, 2020

How to help 1st grader read fluently

When our children are first learning to read, we want them to be successful. As a parent, you are likely to try to find out how to help 1st grader read better.  By first grade, kids are learning to read full-length books and are able to read longer, more complex sentences.

This means that your child is reading at a more challenging level and might be struggling. Their reading fluency is likely a factor in how well they are understanding a text. 

What should a 1st grader be able to read?

By 1st grade your child should have at least the following variety of reading skills:

  1. They should be able to recognize about 150 sight words or high-frequency words.
  2. They are able to distinguish between fiction and nonfiction texts. 
  3. They should be able to recognize the parts of a sentence such as the first word, capitalization, and punctuation. 
  4.  They are able to understand how a final “e” will change the sound of the vowels within a word
  5.  They are able to answer questions and recall details from a reading.
  6.  They are able to read fluently meaning with speed, accuracy, and prosody.

Your first grader should be able to begin reading the first few levels of graded reader books. A graded reader book is a book that is set at a certain reading level. These books are often used in schools to help measure student progress. 

What is fluency in reading?

Reading fluency is the ability to “read how you speak”. This means that your child is reading at a conversational pace with appropriate expression. Reading fluency is important because it is directly related to reading comprehension. The more fluent a reader is the better they understand the text. 

Fluency in reading relies on speed, accuracy, and prosody. These factors make for a fluent reader and help your 1st grader not only to recognize words but to actually understand and comprehend text.

  • Speed – Fluent readers read at a speed that is accurate for their grade level which is 60 words per minute for 1st graders
  • Accuracy – Fluent readers are able to recognize words quickly and have the skills to sound out and decode words they are unfamiliar with. 
  • Prosody – Fluent readers use expression and intonation to bring meaning into their readings. This is not just recognizing words, but also recognizing that expression also plays a part in understanding. 

Parent modeling fluent reading to their young child

How can I help my 1st grader with reading fluency?

There are a variety of things you can do at home to help your 1st grader read more fluently:

  1. Model reading – Children learn best when they have a model showing them the skills they are meant to be learning. Reading to your child regularly provides a model of fluent reading for them. 
  2. Echo Reading – As you and your child read a text, read one sentence then have them read the same sentence out loud. This form of repeated reading helps them see you model fluency then lets them practice it. 
  3. Reader’s theatre – Turn a book into a script and have your kids bring the story to life. This will help them practice their expression and intonation when they read. 
  4. Practice sight words – The more words your child recognizes, the more fluent they will become. Use word games and flashcards to help them learn sight words to help them read less choppy. 
  5. Extensive reading – The best way to help your 1st grader to read fluently is to get them to read a lot! Provide lots of books of their choice at home and get them to enjoy reading so that they practice often. 
  6. Utilize reading apps – Most kids play with technology already such as tablets and smartphones. Why not incorporate reading into this game time by downloading some reading apps? 

Which reading app is helpful for improving fluency? 

Readability is an app that helps improve fluency for emerging readers. The app is a great way to increase fluency for your 1st grader because it uses A.I. technology and speech-recognition to recognize errors your child might be making when reading out loud.

Readability provides a large library of original content that your child can read and is constantly being updated with new stories. The app works like a private tutor by actually listening to your child read out loud and recognizing their errors. It then provides feedback to help them improve. It can also read the material to your child as they follow along.

These forms of repeated reading can help your 1st grader practice their fluency wherever and whenever they want. Try Readability for free!