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Learning to Read

Ideas and Activities to Build Fluency


Recent research on reading development identifies the importance of fluency. The three components of reading fluency are speed, accuracy, and expression. Fluency integrates word recognition with comprehension. A child who reads a passage fluently doesn't stop to decode words; she reads quickly and with expression because she knows the words and grasps the meaning of the text. It is possible to help your child become a more fluent reader. Beginning around first grade, use these teacher-recommended strategies at home to build fluency.

As you practice these activities, keep in mind these strategies:

Talk about the story. Ask your child to tell you what might happen next. Help her use context, pictures, first letters, ending letters and other clues to guess what a word is. Model reading smoothly with expression and phrasing that matches the meaning of the text. This makes the story more engaging and builds fluency. Reread books several times in a week. Choose books at your child's reading level to prevent frustration and build fluency. Your child's Accelerated Reader books are good choices for home reading practice because they are at your child's independent reading level.

Paired Reading

In paired reading, you and your child read a book aloud together, pointing to each word as you go along. Also, you will allow your child to read out loud alone as he moves his finger under each word. When a mistake is made, move his finger back and correct it. For detailed instructions read this parent letter for paired reading.

Echo Reading

In echo reading, you read a sentence or brief passage aloud using phrasing and expression to convey meaning. Then, your child reads the same sentence or passage aloud. Echo reading can be used with storybooks, poems, and nonfiction books. Choose material that is relatively short and reread it at least four times until he reads the material quickly, accurately, and with expression.

Book with Tapes/CD Sets

Many popular children's books come with tapes or CD's or listening while following along in the book. Check your favorite bookstore. You can also record your children's books at home. Use a tape recorder, or record it through your computer mic and burn it on CD. This method has been developed to help struggling readers by Dr. Marie Carbo. Visit the Carbo Method web site to order a catalog of Carbo-recorded children's books.

Poetry Reading

Reading poetry is a good way to build fluency because poems have rhythm and expression. Begin reading children's poetry to your child at a young age. When he begins elementary school, begin memorization of poetry. The process involves multiple readings and oral expression, two components of fluency development.

Dramatic Reading

Choose a story or book that has lots of dialogue. Practice and perform a dramatic reading with you and your child performing the parts. Again, you will use multiple readings and expression. Your child doesn't have to memorize the dialogue. She may read the script, but encourage pacing and expression.

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