There are several things you can do to help your child develop fluency. They are all easy to implement and simple to do. Fluency is the key to comprehension. As your child’s fluency increases, so will their understanding of what they read.
Help Your Child Develop Fluency so They Will Understand What They Read
Fluency is key for developing comprehension. When children do not read fluently their reading feels choppy and disjointed. It doesn’t flow and the amount of energy they use to read and decode takes energy away from their brain’s ability to understand what they are reading.
Children get easily frustrated when they cannot read fluency, comprehension breaks down, and they will lose the motivation to try. Before addressing possible reading disabilities, try these 10 tips and see if your child doesn’t start reading more fluently right away.
10 Things to Help Your Child Develop Fluency
Practice with these fluency building methods often and see which ones help your child. There is no right or wrong order to use. Use them as appropriate or necessary.
1. Read aloud to your child to develop fluency
Reading aloud has a myriad of benefits but modeling what fluent reading sounds like is one of the most important. You don’t ever have to stop reading aloud to your child but during their early years, as they are starting to read on their own, hearing you read to them regularly will increase their ability to read fluently. Reading aloud also exposes them to new vocabulary so they will have a large vocabulary bank to help them when they read on their own.
2. Partner read is a fun way to develop fluency
Pairing a newer or weaker reader up with a more fluent reader can help the weaker reader experience fluency and hear new words read correctly from the partner and also builds confidence in the stronger reader as they act as a support or guide for their partner. Just make sure the book is not too hard for the weaker reader or they will become frustrated and lose confidence.
3. Shared reading books for developing fluency (borrow from your local library)
Here are some examples of shared reading books you can borrow from your library, but you can create a shared reading experience with just about any book. Shared reading allows your child to read parts of the book that they can, repeating lines they already know or just reading words they are comfortable with. With shared reading, the idea is to make the experience enjoyable but give your child just enough opportunity to jump in and practice too.
4. Predictable pattern books or books with highly repetitive text will develop a child’s fluency quickly
We highly recommend predictable pattern books or books with repeated lines, sentence patterns, and rhymes. One of the main reasons is that these books quickly develop your child’s fluency and confidence. Because many of the lines are repeated, your child doesn’t have to think about everything they are reading and fluency begins to flow, along with comprehension.
Predictable pattern books also include important vocabulary and high-frequency words your child needs to know. Building your child’s exposure to these words will also help your child develop fluency.
Some examples of predictable pattern books include Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You Hear, and Five Little Monkeys. Here is a list of more books with repeated text to get you started.
5. Read the book TO your child first before your child attempts
By simply reading the book to your child before they read on their own, you can help your child read the book more fluently. Hearing the flow of the story, new words, and a chance to get familiar with the book helps them to read fluently as they get started. And when you do this, also do #6.
6. Go over new vocabulary words before reading a new book
Introduce any new words you think your child might not know or might struggle with, including names. Just having the comfort of having seen that word and practiced it before they get to it will help your child read it with more confidence and not have to slow down to focus on it. Fluency will be improved.
7. Let your child reread favorite books to others to develop fluency and confidence
Perhaps the easiest way to help your child develop their fluency is to let them reread favorite books. Each time they read a book they can feel more confident knowing what words are coming their way and how to add expression to the story. To incentivize your child to read books over and over to others, you can give them the challenge to read to others and then an award for filling up their Lucky Listeners chart (click here to download).
8. Explain the job of punctuation and how it impacts fluency
Punctuation has a purpose. Periods mean stop. Commas mean pause. Exclamation marks mean read with excitement, and so on. Be sure to explicitly teach these to your child and talk about how you read when you see them. For a fun book on how important punctuation is, read Punctuation Takes a Vacation.
9. Model well! Be a fluent reader for your child.
When you read to your child, be sure to use expression, pause when appropriate, change the tone of your voice, and really make the story come alive! Model well!
10. Provide plenty of easy reading material so your child can practice their fluency while enjoying what they read
This is often the area where children struggle. When we don’t give children enough reading material that is at their “just right” level we create a lot of frustration. When children feel frustrated they lose confidence. And it’s critical that children feel good about reading so they’ll want to keep trying. Success breeds success so make sure you have a lot of reading material around for your child to pick up and read on their own.
To find out more about choosing books for your child, check out this demonstration.
In summary, you can do a lot to help develop your child’s fluency.
Try the tips above, make sure your child reads every day, and encourage all their efforts and you will have a fluent and confident reader in no time!
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