Last week, we talked about fluency, an essential skill in learning to read. Today we’ll talk some more about Fluency; We’ll share some strategies that you can use at home to help your child improve their fluency.
Do your children pick up a book to read on their own? What motivates them to read?
If you take a look at what your children are reading now, you’ll find that:
- The book is from a genre that they like, maybe a mystery or fantasy or non-fiction. This is related to their interests.
- They can decode the words with ease and understand the meaning of most of the words. This indicates their fluency skills.
- If they read a picture book, they look at the pictures too, not just the words. If they read a chapter book, You can see them flip back and forth between pages as if they are trying to connect the information in these. These behaviours show how readers use their comprehension strategies to understand the text.
All of these three factors influence your child’s decision or desire to pick up a book and read. What can you do at home to improve your child’s fluency skills?
Once again, fluency is the ability to read a text accurately and smoothly, and with expression. When you work with your child’s reading fluency, encourage your child to read aloud. Only then can you determine if your child is skipping or guessing unfamiliar words or decoding them correctly.
Here are some suggestions to help your child become a fluent reader:
- Let your children pick books and genres that interest them.
Many of us Indian parents…we want our kids to enjoy the books we enjoyed as kids. Understandable, but how closely do our children’s interests mimic your own? Your child is more likely to pick up a book to read independently if the choices interest her or him.
2. Choose books at the right reading level:
We Indian parents like to challenge their kids in academics, and the most common strategy they use is to expose their children to advanced levels of work. But that doesn’t work well to develop fluency. The reading material should be at the reading level to develop your children’s fluency, not beyond it. That’s because fluency has to do with accuracy; your child should not ‘guess’ a word. Instead, they must read them correctly.
How do you find out if the book is at your child’s fluency? This is where you use the five finger strategy. Ask your child to read a page aloud. Count the number of words your child can’t read on a page. If your child puts out five fingers, then the book is too advanced. If you feel that the book will be interesting for your child, then you read it to her. Reading aloud is not only for young kids. Even middle school kids enjoy read alouds. In fact, this book may be the right choice for you, the parent, to read aloud rather than for independent reading.
3. Model good reading skills.
When you read to your children, they listen to how you use intonation and volume to indicate what is happening in the book. When you pause for a comma, the way you chunk phrases, the rise and fall of your voice as you follow the plot enhance their comprehension. When it is their turn, young readers will imitate these patterns.
When you read to your child, you can expose her to reading material beyond her interests. How you read with expression can highlight critical aspects of different genres. So the chances are that the next time your child reaches for a book, she will select something different from her usual choices.
4. Listen to audiobooks. Children can either read along or listen to the story. Either way, the audiobook reader models fluent reading.
5. Encourage our child to reread books. With multiple reading, your child develops stronger word recognition skills and accuracy increases. Good word recognition skills allow your child to focus more on the expression and pace of reading.
6. Have older siblings or cousins read to younger children. It is also a bonding activity for children to have siblings or cousins read to them. This activity works well for both groups of kids. The older child’s fluency increases while the younger child listens to fluent reading. In a turn-taking activity, the fluent reader reads aloud a passage first, and the second child reads the same passage next.
If you want your child to read with accuracy, expression, and speed, consider their interests and reading level when they pick their reading material.