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Reading Problems: The Non-Fluent Reader

A Look a Non-Fluent Readers

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reading problems

Some reading problems have to do with non-fluency.

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If you know what a fluent reader looks like, it seems logical that you'd know the characteristics of a non-fluent reader. However, kids who have reading problems with fluency aren't necessarily the exact opposite of kids who can read fluently. Just like fluent readers, non-fluent reading problems have uniquely identifying characteristics. A non-fluent reader:

  • reads slowly and with difficulty, both orally and silently.
  • doesn't use expression and intonation when he reads out loud.
  • is unable to see and process more than one word at a time.
  • decodes words sound-by-sound rather than by phonemes or context. In other words, non-fluent readers frequently rely on phonics as their sole reading strategy.
  • doesn't always self-correct when something sounds wrong. Instead non-fluent readers often try to "push through" just to get done reading more quickly.
  • mouths or says words under his breath when reading silently. While this is a valid beginning reading strategy, as children get older it drastically slows down their reading rate.
  • needs to reread text to gain understanding or comprehension.
  • has difficulty moving forward when interrupted by a word or phrase that needs to be decoded.


The good news is that even if your child shows some of the characteristics of a non-fluent reader, he doesn't have to remain one. With school-based interventions like Reading Recovery and using activities to support reading at home, your child can gain both reading fluency and a lifelong love of books.

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