Reading Fluency

A Fluent Reader:

  • Has automatic word recognition
  • Is able to figure out unknown quickly using context and word patterns
  • Reads with appropriate phrasing and expression

Don’t be fooled, however. Just because a child is a fluent reader, does not mean that the child is comprehending.

However, a child who struggles with fluency will also have difficulty comprehending.

Ways to Build Fluency:

  • Read, read, read. ‘Automaticity’ comes with many hours of reading practice.
  • Read material at an easier level so that decoding is not an issue. Practice at independent levels of text difficulty is important. A suggested ratio of easier to difficult text is 80/20, 80 percent easy and 20 percent at the instructional level.
  • Reread text. Fluency will develop when children reread text with a high rate of success.
  • Model fluent reading. Children need to hear good models of text reading to understand how reading should sound.

Classroom or Home Activities That Build Fluency:

  • Read to children with fluency, phrasing, and expression. Define fluency. Talk about reading fluency, Demonstrate with appropriate examples to make children aware that fluency is the goal.
  • Provide opportunities for repeated readings through shared reading.

Readers’ Theater:
Providing children with scripts of stories to practice together, rehearsing over several days, hearing the text out-loud to bring it to life, and then performing the text has proven to be a successful method of improving fluency.

Repeated Readings:
This intervention strategy involves having a child read a short text, (a page or a few paragraphs) aloud several times. Each time the child reads the text, he is given feedback including praise, modeling, and suggestions for improvement. By reading the text 3-5 times, the child develops a sort of automaticity. Hearing himself or herself read fluently will build confidence and the expectation for continued fluent reading.

Partner Reading:
Have children reread text with a partner. Rereading chapters or stories will provide the practice necessary for fluency to develop. Partners can be trained to give good feedback, have appropriate “wait time” so the reader can decode difficult words, and practice expression.

Book Baskets:
Many classrooms have baskets with books at appropriate levels for each child. Children return to these baskets and replace books with more difficult ones as the weeks progress. Children read from their basket during centers, or at other times during the day. This ensures that children will have books to read and not spend time finding a book. Children can reread books and read books at appropriate levels.