When teaching a child how to read, it’s important to understand why reading fluency matters to the overall process. Let’s start by understanding the wholistic approach to teaching reading.
The Wholistic Reading Approach
Learning to read is so much more than just decoding words. As parents and teachers, we need to help our children learn and grow in all areas of reading. This includes decoding, background knowledge, comprehension, and fluency for total understanding.
What is reading fluency?
Much like the word “decoding”, you will hear the word “fluency” used many times in the educational world when talking about reading. Fluency is the ability to read smoothly, at a good pace, with expression, and proper pausing at punctuation marks.
As our children grow as readers and learn to decode, we eventually want them to learn to read smoothly, with fewer stops to sound out words. Fluid reading will help children focus on the message of the text rather than putting their energy and focus into sounding out each word.
Young readers should also practice reading with expression and learning to breathe and pause when encountering a comma or other punctuation.
Overall, reading fluency will increase a child’s comprehension.
How can we practice reading fluency?
There are many simple ways to practice fluency that will make a big difference down the road.
Read Out Loud
A common misconception when children are learning to read is that adults should no longer read out loud to them. The thought is that children need the constant reading practice, and its “cheating” to read to them.
I agree that children need a lot of practice reading for themselves. However, our children can also benefit greatly from listening to a practiced reader read out loud. Listening gives our kiddos a chance to hear how fluid reading sounds as well as learn how to read with expression and pause properly for punctuations.
Read out loud with your children often. The learning and bonding time is invaluable for both you and your child.
Listen to Audiobooks
Audiobooks are another wonderful way for your child to listen to experienced readers. Children can listen to audiobooks in the car, in their room while playing, or any other time of the day when you are not available to read to them.
Because your young reader does need to practice their reading in order to get better, tandem reading can be a great tool. When sitting down with your child to practice reading together, decide who will read what. For example, your child can read a sentence, and then you will read a sentence.
Tandem reading is a great way for your child to hear fluid reading and then immediately practice the skill for themselves by reading the next sentence.
Re-reading books is another great way for a child to practice reading fluency. For a young reader, the first time through a new text is often slow as they sound out and decode each word.
When a child re-reads a text several times, it gives them the opportunity to become familiar with the words and focus on reading them smoothly and with expression.
As experienced readers, we are able to read a brand new text with fluidity because we do not need to sound out the words. However, children who are learning to read do not have the same capabilities when encountering a new text, therefore re-reading gives them a chance to practice both decoding and fluency over time.
Fluency is important for a child’s overall ability to understand what he is reading. Incorporating a couple of these practice ideas into your week will help your child immensely as he grows as a reader.
Check out the Wholistic Reading series to learn more!
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