Jul 102013

Reading smoothly in a rhythmic, and expressive manner is called “Reading Fluency”. For children with reading decoding difficulties, reading smoothly with understanding can be a significant issue and requires the right methods and curriculum.

Fluency can be difficult to develop when a child has to concentrate on figuring out each word. If a child has good decoding skills, he will have less difficulty with fluency. A good vocabulary can help as well. Unfortunately, when a child’s reading is dysfluent, his reading comprehension usually suffers too.

The National Reading Panel says, “Reading fluency is one of several critical factors necessary for reading comprehension, but is often neglected in the classroom. If children read out loud with speed, accuracy, and proper expression, they are more likely to comprehend and remember the material than if they read with difficulty and in an inefficient way.

“Two instructional approaches have typically been used to teach reading fluency. One, guided repeated oral reading, encourages students to read passages out loud with systematic and explicit guidance and feedback from their teacher. The other, independent silent reading, encourages students to read silently on their own, inside and outside the classroom, with little guidance or feedback from their teachers.”

“The Panel determined that guided repeated oral reading has a significant and positive impact on word recognition, reading fluency, and comprehension for students of all ages. However, the Panel was unable to conclude that independent silent reading, as the only type of reading instruction, improves reading fluency. More research is needed to understand the specific influences that independent silent reading practices have on reading fluency.”

So, the least expensive way to help your child learn to read fluently is to sit with him and work on reading passages aloud. Have your child read a passage two or three times until he can speak the passage without pausing for any significant decoding difficulty. He should read as if he is speaking the passage. The repetitive practice of individual passages can help him hear how fluent reading sounds.

Don’t drill your child in any single passage over and over, as he would probably come to hate practicing reading fluency. Instead, have him practice a passage here and there a few times for fluency. It is helpful if you model fluent reading by taking turns reading aloud. Repetitive reading to develop smooth reading skills can be undertaken at any reading level and should be part of a child’s regular reading practice.

When you begin practicing Reading Fluency, it will be helpful to measure your child’s fluency level. A great free tool to use is DIBELS. The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) are a set of standardized, individually administered measures of early literacy development. They are designed to be short (one minute) fluency measures used to regularly monitor the development of pre-reading and early reading skills. You can use the DIBELS assessment when you begin working on fluency and at regular intervals to measure progress. **DIBELS is offered by the University of Oregon Center on Teaching and Learning.

There are two Reading Fluency programs I’d recommend for home use. One is Sopris West‘s **REWARDS Reading. REWARDS is a research-based and research-validated Reading Intervention that improves:

  • Decoding
  • Fluency
  • Vocabulary
  • Comprehension
  • Test-taking abilities
  • Content area reading and writing
Students who have mastered single syllable words and who are ready for multisyllabic words benefit greatly from the REWARDS program. The program does not teach basic phonemes and sounds, but does take reading mastery to a new level once a child can decode basic words.The other Fluency focused product I’d recommend is **Read Naturally’s One Minute Reader. One Minute Reader is a fun home reading program that can help students read better. It motivates students to improve their fluency. Read Naturally has a software version of their program as well which you can find by going to their products listing and scrolling down to the Software section.You may also wish to check out our information on Reading Comprehension and Vocabulary since both of these aspects of reading skill can have a significant influence on Reading Fluency. Our information on Speed Reading may be of interest once your child reads fluently beyond a third grade level.

Best Wishes in helping your child learn to read with speed and accuracy!

Reading Fluency