“Lauren needs to work on her fluency,” your daughter’s teacher tells you at her conference, and you are thinking what does that mean? Fluency is one’s ability to read a text smoothly without little to no hesitation, pausing correctly at punctuation, while reading with expression. This is our Number 4 out of the “Big Five” essentials to becoming a great reader.
Fluency is not something most readers just have naturally. It takes time and practice. Usually the more one reads, the more fluent they become. An early reader learns to decode and often reads in chunks or small phrases. As one emerges into an intermediate reader, fluidity becomes more attainable.
There are four phases to fluency. Readers need all four of these phases to be in sync to be a fluent reader.
- Accuracy - If a student is accurate, they can decode words without help.
- Phrasing and Smoothness - When a student pauses at a comma and period they are using correct phrasing. They become a smooth reader by knowing when to chunk certain phrases together.
- Pace - Speed does not mean fluent. The reader’s pace needs to be just right…like Goldilocks might say, “Not too fast and not too slow”.
- Volume and Expression - Last, but not least, a fluent reader’s volume and expression seals the deal. Being a strong reader means they read the words with conviction, loud and proud. Adding the expression through raising their voice at the end of a sentence when they see a question mark, not only tells the listener they are a fluent reader, but also that they are understanding what they are reading.
How might you help your son/daughter with their fluency?
Giving a child a text, at their level, and having them practice it again and again. In other words, practicing repeated reading of the text will help them with their fluency. Repeated reading will help build fluency, comprehension and confidence - three areas a where developing readers need practice.
Take a look at any of the Voweletics poems to use for your child to practice his or her repeated reading of a text. The web teacher models correct fluency style, and the poems are fun to read. They are sure to do the trick!