Reading fluency

A fluent reader has the ability to read smoothly, with intonation and expression, and at a similar speed you would use when talking.  A nonfluent reader puts a large amount of effort into decoding words.  By the time a nonfluent reader finishes a sentence, they may have forgotten what the sentence was even about.  Comprehension is limited because the process of decoding takes so much time and effort that the short-term memory can’t grasp the fragmented input of information.  By contrast, a fluent reader reads in smooth and continuous phrases and the brain can retain and comprehend what is read.

If your child is just learning to read, or puts a large amount of effort into decoding words, here are some simple activities that you can do with them to promote better fluency. Choose books that are high interest and within their ability to understand the vocabulary and the concepts.

Chunking is a technique to encourage reading phrases of language that represent meaning rather than separate words. It focuses on reading phrases of text that represent a thought and facilitates fluency by using thought units rather than word-by-word reading.

Echo reading involves the parent reading aloud a chunked phrase from the story, accentuating appropriate intonation and expression. Then the child echoes by reading the same words, imitating the parent. Parent and child continue to read in echo fashion, increasing the amount of text as the child becomes more comfortable with imitating.

This is what echo reading by chunking could sound like:reading

(Text from “Where the Wild Things Are”)

Child reads: That / very / night / in / Max’s / room / a / forest / grew.

Parent models and child echoes: That very night / in Max’s room / a forest grew.

Repeated reading is like practicing a musical instrument – the repetition helps the child read more smoothly and automatically.  Repeated reading involves the child orally rereading a selected passage until accuracy and speed are fluent. Language involving rhyme and repetition are great for repeated readings, like Dr Seuss.

Happy reading!!

Joanne Wood

The Glenleighden School

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