Have you seen your child attempting to read but getting stuck on words frequently? Do they know the word sometimes but not all the time? Well, your child may be struggling with their reading fluency skills. This important skill that all readers to build. As a kindergarten teacher once a child had a sufficient number of words they could blend or decode, I began to focus on their reading fluency. Reading specialists stress the importance of readers being able to fluently read so that text is actually useful for them (ie increase their reading comprehension).
What is reading fluency?
Reading fluency is the ability to read text quickly and accurately. Children who have strong reading fluency skills have both the skills and word knowledge to allow them to smoothly read sentences.
What is reading fluency in kindergarten?
In kindergarten, reading fluency looks like children being able to read word families and sight words with ease. These two types of words are then put together into simple texts that children can read. It is amazing the variety of simple books your child will be able to read when they have a firm understanding of word families. There are many ways to help children develop their ability to read word families.
How can I teach reading fluency?
There are many ways you can use to teach reading fluency at home but the key is to remember young readers need lots of practice. Be sure to give them practice with text in different forms and fonts. This helps them to be able to easily recognize the words and read them fluently regardless of where they see them. This article from Reading Rockets gives several simple ideas on how you can support your child’s reading fluency.
Here are some other ideas to increase reading fluency:
Check the Reading Level
Make sure the books you choose are at the right reading level for your child. In my classroom, one resource I loved was Reading A-Z. The books were easily printable and leveled for my children.
Another ready fluency strategy is echo reading. This simply is having your child repeat the sentence you have read. Now, this would not be for an entire book but it can be helpful. Children can pick up on the rhythm and flow of language as well as get practice with words that may otherwise cause them to stumble. Remember the goal is to get them to be confident readers so, in the beginning, it is great to give them as much help as possible.
Choral reading also helps build your child’s reading fluency skills. Simply read the text together. It is a step more difficult than echo reading because they have to read with you not after. However, it is still helpful because you are there with them. Think of it as teaching them to ride a bicycle. You hold on to the bike until they are steady enough to ride alone. That’s the same thing we do in quality education but we call it scaffolding.
Reading Fluency Games
Simple fluency games are always at the top of the list for me. Anything that is fun for young children will make the learning process much more enjoyable for everyone.
Write the words your child is working on two pieces of paper about a game card size or post-it note size. They can be word families or sight words. Flip cards over so the words cannot be seen. When it is the player’s turn they turn over two cards and read the words. If they match, they get to keep it. If they do not, they place them back facedown. You can up the challenge with a timer.
This classic game is often used to teach many different skills and reading fluency is no different. If you’re not sure, check out the directions here but be sure to swap out the regular playing cards for cards with the sight words or word family words on them.
Another classic game that can be played using word cards to teach reading fluency skills is Old Maid. Check out how to play here
Nursery Rhyme Puzzles
Choose a short nursery rhyme that your child is familiar with. Type up the words, print two copies, and laminate. Cut out one copy and keep the other as the game mat. Children can assemble the words of the puzzle and read along. If you use some nursery rhymes that are simple then pick a few more complex ones, your child can easily practice their fluency with increasing difficulty.
Another fun take on an early childhood classic is a Sight Word Sensory Bag.
Reading Fluency Doesn’t Have to be Hard!
As you can see teaching reading fluency to your child can be fun for both of you if your provide them with interesting ways to practice. Remember just like learning to ride a bike, young children need us to help, guide, and support them until they are ready to confidently try on their own.