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How to Help your Child Read Fluently

Updated on April 3, 2013

Reading Fluency

Repeated Reading has been noted as a highly effective strategy for improving reading fluency, word recognition, and accuracy (Lenses on Reading, p.25). Aptly named, repeated exposure to the same text over time leads to an increased reading fluency rate and quick recognition of sight-words. This strategy is supported by immense research-based studies that tout its effectiveness as a means for increasing reading fluency, a fundamental necessity for reading comprehension (National Reading Panel, 2000).

Reading difficulties have been identified as a predictor of academic failure. As such, individuals exhibiting weakness in reading require timely and effective intervention to eradicate the problem because the inability to read fluently can eventually alienate students from equal participation in the academic environment. Reading difficulties can also lower a student’s self-esteem and self –confidence, resulting in frustration and a dislike for reading. While resources such as trained teachers are on and to help such students at school, reading practice should not stop when the school day is over. Instead, parents and caregivers can take it upon themselves to extend reading practice for their struggling students long after the school day has come to a close. The next paragraph explains a sure fire way to help struggling students at home and no, we do not have to be ‘trained teachers’ to be able to provide support for our struggling readers.

Just as athletes must train consistently to improve their performance, struggling readers must read consistently if they are to improve their performance in reading. While parents and caregivers may not be trained educators, repeated reading or remedial reading can be practiced at home with very little challenge.

Practicing Repeated Reading at Home.

  • Repeated reading can become boring if the student does not understand the reasoning behind. It is therefore imperative to have a conversation with your student about their reading needs and how you intend to help at home. The student must buy into this idea in order for it to work; they must recognize the need to improve their reading fluency.
  • A good way to proceed in the writer’s opinion is to start by selecting a book that is just right for the reader, meaning a text that presents subtle challenge but is not too difficult (the child’s teacher can be a great resource). The parent/caregiver reads the book with the student once or twice initially, and corrects reading errors that the student makes during reading (the writer recommends writing down the problem words on a note card). These words can be practiced independently after each reading,. The student must be encouraged to reread the same text multiple times for a couple of days (twice at each sitting is ideal), and during these readings, the parent/caregiver’s job is to support the reader. Thus the student is required to read while the parent/caregiver listens attentively, provide support as necessary by correcting persistent reading errors during reading, and practicing problem words as necessary after reading.
  • Typically, after a couple of readings, fluency should improve and student should able to recognize a number of the problem words on sight without much hesitation. You will notice that after several readings, your student’s reading becomes more fluent, he’ll quickly recognize many of the words that posed a challenge initially, and it will take him less time to finish reading the same book with every repeated reading than it took him initially. One can prove this by timing the duration of the first reading and then timing a later reading; the time difference can be astounding.
  • The ease with which the text is read subsequently is an indicator of success. By ` the end of several readings, your student will have acquired fluency and automaticity in recognizing the words that stumped him during the first reading. You’re ready to introduce a new book at this point, once again by helping the child read the entire book the first couple of times, and then following the same procedure of the child repeating the reading several times (don’t forget to time the reading). At this point, the previous book becomes part of the student’s independent reading selection. A word of caution: due to children’s attention span being short, the author recommends a book that will take no more than 15 minutes maximum, for elementary school kids because the purpose of this exercise is repetition, not sustained reading. The author recommends short books which take into consideration the reader’s interest. Remember this is a supplement to what is being done at school so make it fun, fun, fun for your child and yourself!


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