I wanted to take some time today to discuss reading fluency and it’s importance in helping children to become strong, confident readers. Reading fluency is the ability to read at a proper speed with accuracy and expression. Think about the last time you listened to an audio book. The narrator likely spoke at a comfortable pace and added expression as the story unfolded. This is what we want students to be able to do as fluent readers. Children who are choppy readers find reading to be a labor filled activity because they are spending so much energy simply on figuring out what the text says that they don’t have time to focus on the story or topic the text is discussing. If a child has developed his/her reading fluency by the time they move into upper elementary school, they are able to explore a wealth of knowledge and information in science, history and literature without the added difficulties imposed by reading.
In order to help children develop reading fluency, elementary school teachers will assign reading fluency homework. This take the form of a short passage that the student must read aloud multiple times in order to practice reading at an appropriate pace, reading smoothly and adding expression. While at first the reading may be choppy, the goal is to eventually have it sound like your child is reading like an audio book narrator. That is, their reading should engage you as a listener and proceed at a pace that is comfortable to listen to. In fact allowing your child to listen to an audio book is a great way to introduce them to the topic of reading fluency.
If you decide to try this, you can get two free audible books here. If they are already reading a book in school, I would suggest that you work with that audible book. Otherwise The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary is a great choice for children.
Whether you are a teacher looking to introduce fluency passages into your classroom or are a parent looking to supplement your child’s education at home, I have some tips for you. The most important thing to keep in mind when working on fluency with your child is your child’s reading level. We want to be sure that what the students are reading is just challenging enough. In addition, I would recommend modeling for your student how you would like them to read the passage. Remember to read the passage at an appropriate speed and with expression, it may be helpful for you to time yourself. Timing yourself as you read is important, because it can help your student to understand the pace they should be reading at. For example, if you read the passage in 58 seconds and your student speeds through and reads it in 45 seconds, you can use this data as a way to show them that they are moving too quickly through the passage.
After you have modeled reading the passage for your student, ask them to read it aloud to you while you time them. When your student is finished reading, make sure to praise them, even if they made some mistakes. Learning to be a fluent reader is hard work and encouraging your student and offering them praise will help them feel confident and keep them interested in improving.
Asking your student to read the passage aloud to you two to three times a day for one week will give them lots of practice before moving onto a second passage. Over time you will notice that your child is making improvements. There are many online resources you can use when looking for fluency passages. If you are interested, I have created the following reading fluency passage, US Government Reading Fluency. If you enjoyed this, let me know by liking the post. If you know anyone else that would enjoy working on reading fluency with their children or students, let them know about this by sharing this post.