What is fluency and how do you know if your child is a fluent reader?
Fluency is the ability to read a text accurately and quickly. When fluent readers read silently, they recognize words automatically. They focus their attention on making connections among the ideas in a text and between these ideas and their background knowledge. Therefore, they are able to focus on comprehension.
Readers who have not yet developed fluency read slowly, word for word. Their oral reading is choppy and labored. Less fluent readers must focus their attention primarily on decoding individual words. Therefore, they have little attention left for comprehending the text.
Fluency develops gradually over time and through considerable practice. At the earliest stage of reading development, students’ oral reading is slow and labored because students are just learning to “break the code”—to attach sounds to letters and to blend letter sounds into recognizable words.
According to a large-scale study by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP),there is a close relationship between fluency and reading comprehension. Students who scored lower on measures of fluency also scored lower on measures of comprehension.
Although some readers may recognize words automatically in isolation or from a list, they may not read the same words fluently (with “speed and accuracy”) when the words appear in sentences in connected text. Instant or automatic word recognition is a necessary, but not sufficient, reading skill. It is important to provide students with instruction and practice in fluency as they read connected text.
Research supports the premise that students who read and reread passages orally as they receive guidance and/or feedback become better readers. Repeated oral reading substantially improves word recognition, speed, and accuracy, as well as fluency. Because good reading fluency is problematic for many of our students at Success Center, we utilize the Read Naturally® program as part of our reading students’ prescriptions. Read Naturally® combines three research-proven strategies into one powerful strategy to develop reading fluency:
*Teacher Modeling—Students read along while listening to an appropriately paced recording of a leveled high-interest story.
*Repeated Reading—Students practice reading the story until they can read it at a predetermined goal rate.
*Progress Monitoring—Students graph the number of words read correctly before practicing and then again after practicing.
The graph provides proof of their progress and is a great tool in showing parents how quickly their children are reading and how well they are comprehending the stories.
Parents, you can model fluent reading by reading aloud daily to your children. By reading effortlessly and with expression, you are modeling how a fluent reader sounds during reading. Of course, hearing a model of fluent reading is not the only benefit of reading aloud to children. Reading to children also increases their knowledge of the world, their vocabulary, their familiarity with written language, and their interest in reading. Spending time reading with or listening to your child read produces life-long benefits, both personally and academically.