Reading fluency is essential to childhood literary development. This term describes, in the simplest terms, how good a child is at reading. Fluent readers are good at understanding what they read, retaining it, and reading smoothly and accurately. If your child hates reading, the problem may not be in a simple dislike of the process, but in their lack of fluency. Here’s a look at the details of reading fluency: what it is, why it is important, and how you can help your child improve.
Fluency refers to a person’s ability to read easily and smoothly with a high degree of accuracy and without having to spend undue concentration doing so. It can be defined by several different factors:
- Fluent readers possess a degree of expression, intonation, accuracy and speed appropriate to their age level.
- There is a direct relationship between comprehension of the text being read, and how fluent the reader is.
- Strong readers have the ability to draw information from a text. They are able to decode the words they read to understand their meaning. They do this regardless of whether they are reading silently or aloud.
- When reading aloud, the reader sounds natural with an easy flow and no stammering or struggle. They display a degree of confidence in their ability to express words.
- Fluent readers tend to complete work at a higher level of quality and speed than those who lack fluency.
Challenges to Fluency
Readers who lack fluency tend to struggle while decoding the text, and may stop to sound out the words on the page, or have to reread a section over and over again as they struggle to understand its meaning. This results in them becoming distracted from the overall text, in getting frustrated, and sometimes in giving up on the task altogether.
In addition, fluency can be lost. If a child is a great reader, but stops reading at a certain age, their fluency can degrade or at least stop at a certain level rather than continuing to advance. It is important for children not only to read from a young age, but to continue to read in order to continue to improve at the process.
Helping Kids Become Fluent
Since practice is the core of fluent reading, it is important to ensure that your child reads every day, and explores new texts on a regular basis. As they get very good at one level of reading, step them up to the next. As they become more fluent, they will build not only mastery of the skill, but excitement about continued reading as well.
Interactive e-books can be a great way to help children get excited about reading new books, and can be a valuable tool in building reading fluency. If you’re ready to get your child started on a wonderful world of excitement and knowledge, check out one of our free eBooks, and take some time to explore our other early literacy tools.