When A Reader Lacks Fluency

When a child lacks fluency, he/she reads at a pace that is word-by-word, with little attention to phrasing. He/she may also be reading a book that is too difficult, where his/her attention is on decoding and not on comprehension and fluency.


  • Encourage the child to read a book that is easy. An easy book is one with fewer than 5 errors per 100 words.
  • Explain that reading needs to sound like talking.
  • Encourage repeated readings of easy books.
  • Encourage the reader to read to a younger child.
  • Encourage the child to read without pointing.
  • Provide guided practice with a teacher/parent for 5-10 minutes. Choose a reading passage that is easy and be sure both the adult and child can see it. The adult reads it several times to the child, who is following along. Then read it together once or several times, until the child is reading it with expression. Finally, have the child read it alone. Repeat daily for several months.

The Reader Reads Too Fast:

Some readers view the purpose of reading to say the words right without thinking about what the words mean. They do not view reading as a meaning-making activity and therefore, read to “be done”.

Model what good phrasing and expression should sound like.

  • Explain that reading too fast makes it hard to understand everything that is happening.
  • Provide practice. Have the child rehearse for an oral performance (e.g. Readers Theater, plays, and reading to a younger child).

The Reader Pauses for Long Periods of Time:

If a reader pauses during reading, this lack of fluent reading is not necessarily a negative behavior. Perhaps the reader is working in his/her head to figure out a new word or to reread for meaning. However, if the reader continues to pause for long periods, and it is obvious that the reader is not trying to figure out the confusion, then an intervention is appropriate.


  • Support word-solving strategies by demonstrating and encouraging fluent reading.
  • Ask the reader to articulate what he/she is thinking to help unscramble confusions.
  • Build a sight word vocabulary so the child can become more fluent.
  • Praise the reader’s efforts to problem solve.
  • Make sure the child is in a text that is not too difficult.

The Reader Has Difficulty Keeping Place on a Page:

Some readers seem to lose their place or frequently skip lines of print when they come to the end of a line.


  • Check for visual difficulties.
  • Allow the reader to use a marker or his/her finger to track the line of text.
  • Remove the marker or use of finger when it is no longer necessary.
  • Demonstrate fluent reading.
  • Provide lots of time to practice reading and to reread texts.
  • Make sure text is not too difficult for the reader.

The Reader Repeats Words and Phrases:

Although going back and re-reading a phrase or a sentence can be a productive strategy for word-solving and getting meaning, some readers develop the habit of re-reading too much. This action happening could be because they are unsure of themselves, or that they are in a text that is too difficult.


  • Praise repetitions that are self-corrections or clarify the meaning.
  • Explain that too many repetitions are not helpful to comprehendingtext.
  • Encourage the reader to continue and not to repeat so frequently.
  • Demonstrate fluent reading without repetitions.
  • Practice reading using proper phrasing.
  • Use a marker to help the reader read through the text.
  • Tape-record the child reading so he/she can hear himself/herself repeating.
  • Make sure the text is not too difficult for the reader. Find an easier tex