What to Do When Kids Don't Read Fluently

Let's do what we can to grow fluent readers!

By Amy Mascott



What to Do When Kids Don't Read Fluently

Fluent readers are readers who not only sound good while they're reading, but who also understand what they're reading. And by "good," I mean that when they read, they sound natural and conversational, not choppy or disconnected.

We all know how hard it is to listen to non-fluent reading, and we all know how fluent reading should sound. But how do we help them get from non-fluent to fluent? What should parents do when their kids are not fluent readers? And more importantly, what can parents do to help their children read more fluently?

First things first. When children are struggling through a text reading -- stopping every few words and reading in a disconnected, jagged way -- let them rest.  Stop the reading and close the book. Especially if they're reaching a frustration level, let them rest. There's no need to plow on in this painful sort of way.

Instead, say, "I have an idea. Let's take a break for a minute and just breathe. I can tell you are working very hard at reading the words on this page and it must take a lot of energy.  How about you turn back through the pages you read and pick your favorite part? Show me the page that you really loved reading, and we're going to look at that."

Go back to that part and read it out loud. It should be a few paragraphs or phrases long. First, you read it out, modeling what fluent reading should sound like. Then, suggest that you either do a Chorus Read or an Echo Read—or even better, do both!

A Chorus Read is when you and your child read the passage at the same exact time, like a chorus sings the same part of a song together. An Echo Read is when one person reads a sentence or phrase first, and then another person reads it immediately after, like an echo.

Practice those types of reading, and then celebrate the child's growth. Every little step counts as one step closer to fluent reading!

Fluency is developed by listening to fluent reading and by practicing fluent reading. Encouraging a child to "master" a page -- or a paragraph or passage -- and then allowing her to share that piece with an audience (even if it's an audience of one!) will definitely help.

What other ways have worked to help develop fluent readers? Share your thoughts on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page.

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