Happy Cheetah Reading

The Steps to Reading: Fluency (Step 3 of 5)

Fluent readers enjoy this book about a girl who writes and publishes a book.

Children who have learned to read have the ability to translate symbols into sense.

“Reading” involves more skills than just identifying the sounds in a word. It’s a multi-layer process. Experts have identified five skills necessary for your children to read well.

So interesting to see what researchers has discovered!

The first step is understanding that words are made of distinct sounds. The second step is matching the sounds to letters or groups of letters.

The third step on the reading journey is fluency.

In reading, fluency is the ability to read easily and accurately. Children transition from phonetic letter-by-letter reading to reading that flows. A beginning reader might take ten seconds to sound out the word cat, and every other word in the sentence takes a similar length of time. By the sentence’s end, the beginning reader doesn’t remember what happened. By contrast, a fluent reader will read through the word, speaking the whole sentence with good phrasing, because the meaning is in the sentence: The cat ran to Ben.

Ideally, fluency should occur by the end of first grade and certainly by second. (If your children are behind, the most likely culprit is visual tracking. Schedule an appointment with a pediatric optometrist.)

Because English has so many non-phonetic words, instructors can find it especially challenging to help children become fluent.

Can you help increase fluency?

Yes! As I’ve written elsewhere, don’t use flashcards! The brain doesn’t recognize the word cat on an individual flashcard as the same word in the sentence The cat ran to Ben. Flashcards are itemized knowledge, and sentences are in context. Stick with context for the best boost in fluency.

You do this by having your children read and re-read books. Help your children with any hard and non-phonetic words. You should read the book aloud first, and then you can read each page first. When your children are reading aloud, say the tricky words for them. This is all part of your ability to be a booster, not a bystander.

When your children are reading words in context, they will quickly pick up additional words in review reads.

How can your children become fluent? With multiple reads on familiar material. Each read makes the connections in the brain stronger.

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