Parenting Tips

How to help your Child Read more Fluently

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Once your child has learned to read, there is a little more work to be done. One of the new milestones that she needs to reach is fluent reading. Fluent reading is reading that is not done word-by-word. It consists of recognizing words immediately instead of having to sound them out. This leads to smooth and more expressive reading out loud. It also improves reading comprehension.

Often it is just a matter of your child reading more and letting fluency develop on its own, but some children will need a little extra help. There are several techniques that can be used, and you can use just one or two or all of them. 

Re-read Books

The simplest activity is to re-read favorite books. You might read the book to your child first, modeling good expression and phrasing, and then let her read it to you. The next day, have her read it once or twice and do that each day for a week. Take your time with re-reading. A child may feel silly reading the same book several times in a row, but reading it once a day will feel more natural, and will get good results.

When choosing a book to read and re-read, pick out something relatively short, and something that your child can read with few mistakes. Poetry is a good choice because it is often shorter, and the rhythm will help make the expression come much easier.

Books on CD

A great way to model fluent reading is to let him listen to and then read out loud with a book on CD. You can find many books-on- Cd's at your local library. If your child’s favorite book is not available, you might record yourself reading the book, and let him read along with that. Many mp 3 players have a voice-recording function, or you can record directly onto your computer. He may also enjoy recording his own voice reading the book. Then he will be able to play it back and listen to see if he is happy with the amount of expression he is using, or if he sees where he could improve.

Reader's Theater

A different activity that your child might like is to do a reader’s theater. In reader’s theater, she can take turns with you performing the dialogue out of a favorite story. She does not have to memorize any lines; the focus should be on reading the lines, though after a few tries she may have some of it memorized, which is fine.

If she is very creative, she might want to come up with some simple costumes or face masks for the play and perform in front of friends. Repeating nursery rhymes and poems will also help develop rhythm and natural expression. These can be read together in chorus, and solo.

If you want, you can take measurements of your child’s speed in reading by timing her reading a short passage. Figure out how many words per minute she can read and write it down. At the end of the week, have her read something on the same reading level, and figure how many words per minute she is able to read. This will give you an idea of progress, but do not make this the focus. It is important that you both have fun with it.

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