6 Strategies to Develop Reading Fluency

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Help your child learn to read confidently with activities that support reading fluency

Reading is essential for more than academic and professional success. Children learn about themselves and the world around them through stories. Reading fosters imagination, creativity, critical thinking skills, and empathy for others; it provides a distraction from digital devices and an escape from reality.

Helping your child develop reading fluency gives them a key to places, people, time periods, scenarios, and ideas that would otherwise be off-limits while helping build the skills to achieve in school and their future careers. Encourage an appreciation of reading by giving your child the tools to read with confidence and enjoyment.

How to support reading fluency

Reading fluency has three components: accuracy, rate, and expression. It’s not simply the ability to read quickly — reading fluency involves reading with fluidity and intonation, and it’s an important factor incomprehension.

Children who read haltingly or stumble through phrases will struggle to understand and enjoy the content they’re consuming. Although helpful, having your child practice reading independently isn’t enough to ensure fluency. Try the following tactics to help improve their skills and develop reading fluency.

1. Repetition

The mastery of reading requires understanding a range of related skills that act as the building blocks of literacy. Use flashcards or games to practice the alphabet, phonics, and sight words until your child recognizes them effortlessly. Try echo reading, where you have your child follow along as you point to each word and then repeat the reading back to you.

2. Audiobooks

Provide your child with books that have accompanying audio recordings, or make your own by creating recorded readings of books that you already own.

Hearing animated storytelling with proper intonation models reading fluency, and the ability to follow along with the words on the page helps reinforce the connection between how the words and phrases look and sound.

3. Paired reading

Reading aloud is important for practicing fluency. Take turns reading a story with your child and introduce opportunities for them to practice with a family member. Even reading to a pet or stuffed animal can serve as helpful practice. The point of paired reading is to give your child a safe space to develop their reading skills and build confidence.

4. Explore genres

Expose your child to a wide variety of literature types. Not only does this help them explore their personal interests, but it also provides an example of the range of language usage and expression available. Try poetry, fairy tales, fables, adventure stories, speech excerpts, and anything that demonstrates the lyrical nature of storytelling.

5. Record and play

Sometimes the best feedback comes from your child being able to see or hear their own attempts at reading. Create an audio recording or videotape, play it back for your child, and encourage them to find a way to improve upon it. Make it fun by pretending they’re on a television or radio show or auditioning for an important part. Let them know what you liked about their reading and provide gentle suggestions on how to make progress.

6. Be an example

Make sure your child sees, hears, and feels your own appreciation for reading. Read out loud, discuss books that you personally love and why, and keep a bookcase full of options available for the entire family. Get familiar with the library and introduce it as a valuable resource, a fun outing, and a safe refuge. When you read to your child, be emphatic and enthusiastic, and ask them to do the same when they read to you.

Raising a successful reader involves patience, repetition, commitment, and enthusiasm. As with most skills, practice makes perfect. Review the various building blocks of literacy until they’re second nature, make sure your child hears good examples of fluid reading, offer praise and suggestions for improvement, provide opportunities to practice in a supportive environment, and create a culture of literary appreciation in your home and family.

Lumiere Children's Therapy is a full-service, multidisciplinary pediatric therapy practice located in Chicago that serves the developmental needs of children from birth to 18 years of age. Learn more about how our team of clinicians works to improve the lives of children and their families.