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Why Should You Prioritize Reading Fluency in Children?

Jan 07, 2020
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Whether your child reads for pleasure or for acquiring knowledge, reading fluency is a major factor that affects their comprehension. Without comprehension, the child will not be able to get the most out of their reading time. Read on to learn how building up a child’s fluency maximizes the benefits of reading.

Reading in classroomWhat is Reading Fluency?

Contrary to popular belief, fluency does not necessarily indicate reading speed alone. A child can read fast without being fluent. So, what does fluency really mean?

There are multiple, interdependent components to fluency, such as the ability to read with accuracy, reading rate, and meaningful expression. 

  • Accuracy is reading without making too many mistakes. 
  • Reading rate is how fast your child reads
  • Expression is reading with the right stress and intonation. 

Why Focus on Fluency?

So what if the child doesn’t read fast? How does it matter if they make a few mistakes while reading? What difference does it make if they don’t read with accurate expression?

Fluency has a much bigger impact on a child’s overall reading experience than we might think. When children struggle with reading, they are less likely to enjoy it. This can lead to them look at reading as more of a chore than a fun activity. 

Fluency also significantly affects reading comprehension. The child might have trouble with making inferences, predictions, and conclusions accurately. Inadequate comprehension also means that the child is unable to make accurate interpretation and evaluation of text. This results in them providing incorrect responses to the text they read.

Can Reading More Lead to Fluency?

It’s definitely a good idea to encourage children to read more. For children who do not have trouble decoding text, reading more can immensely improve their fluency. However, for those who have underlying difficulties, more reading may not be an optimal solution. It’s more important to address the root cause of their problems. 

According to experts, it all boils down to the mental energy spent in reading. Children who spend most of their mental power decoding text might have very little mental capacity left for comprehension. So, reading more without appropriate intervention only results in more time dedicated to decoding text, with very little scope for improvement in comprehension. 

peer assisted reading

A reading buddy can motivate a child to read

What can You do to Develop Your Child’s Fluency?

Here are a few strategies that can be used to help children become fluent in reading.

  • Reading aloud to a child and having the child read along.
  • Breaking larger text into smaller chunks.
  • Encourage the child to track the words they read with a finger so that they don’t skip words.
  • Assigning a reading buddy so that the child gets the help they need.
  • parent assisted readig

    Parent assisted reading can help a child become fluent

    Making sure that the child understands the meaning of each word. 

You can do this by marking words that are unfamiliar to them and discuss their meanings ahead of reading. This helps the child’s comprehension when they encounter these words in the text.

  • Providing visual representation which helps young children understand the meaning of words better.
  • Teaching children to identify phrase boundaries.

A good place to start is helping them notice punctuation marks such as commas and quotation marks. When children read word by word, the meaning is often lost. For example, take the phrase ‘as a matter of fact’. When a child tries to understand the meaning of each individual word, they might end up failing to understand what the entire phrase means. 

  • Building a child’s vocabulary. The more words a child is familiar with, the less they get stuck with new words. 
  • Repeated reading can help the child notice details they may have missed during earlier reading attempts.

The Role of Assisted Reading

Parent assisted reading, peer assisted reading or technology assisted reading can play a major role in improving fluency and comprehension. Assistive technologies, especially, can amplify opportunities for fluency development primarily because of their 24×7 availability. Moreover, the availability of a wide range of reading supports in these technologies pave the way for children to read without difficulty.

  • Audio hint
    Audio hint in MDA Avaz Reader gives pronunciation help

Assistive reading apps such as MDA Avaz Reader enable children to read independently. This promotes their confidence and serves as a great motivator. Children find reading to be a positive experience and tend to read more, because they have a digital reading buddy with them all the time. The resultant reading fluency tremendously improves reading comprehension, laying the foundation for their academic success and knowledge expansion.