Do you have struggling readers? Have you started working with small groups yet? If you have, one thing you might be focusing on is building your young readers fluency. This is not something that happens overnight so develop a mindset that we are seeking progress over perfection. Reading is a cognitive function that requires the use of different parts of the brain so every child will develop their reading fluency at their own rate and that is okay. Reading is such an important skill so finding easy ways to incorporate fluency practice is vital.
What is Fluency?
Reading fluency is an important part of small group instruction. Fluency is defined as the ability to read with speed, accuracy, and proper expression. In order to understand what they read, children must be able to read fluently and that starts with basic phonics skills for recognizing letters and saying the proper sounds. This is a foundational skill. If your student or child has a lack of confidence around text comprehension, you can be a guiding light into helping improve their literacy skills. If you're seeking new resources, here are a few reading fluency activities to add to your list of strategies.
Tips For Building Fluency
Model fluent reading through read-alouds. Children need to hear us read so they understand that even as they use the strategy of pointing to words as they read, our voice varies and reading is not robotic. This is also a fun way to help them with phonemic awareness. A good place to start is with their favorite stories. This can be an effective tool to gain their interest and make it a fun reading fluency activity.
Build their sight word bank. The more words they can read, the more fluent they will become. Repetition is key!
Read in various settings. Allow students to buddy read, choral read and echo read. Exposure, repetition and practice are the key to success!
Teach within the natural progression. Letters and sounds > Sight Words & Decoding CVC words. These are isolated skills that when combined to read a sentence and then a story, help the reader to develop meaning and comprehension, which is a huge part of our reading goals.
Allow students reading word for word to also read the same thing over and over. We help children become fluent readers by allowing for repetition. This is the perfect way to help with comprehension and confidence.
Have you considered using fluency strips? These strips should not be used as an introduction but instead as practice. During small groups, you can give students a strip or ring of letters/words for them to quickly practice, allowing the opportunity to practice the same skill over and over. It's a fantastic way to encourage a repeated reading method. And starting with a short passage takes off the pressure of something that feels longer and more daunting.
For long term learning, we don’t want students to always need to point to the letter or word as they say it, but teaching one-to-one correspondence is necessary for beginning readers. Have students point to each word as they read it and practice sliding their finger from one dot to the next. This is an effective strategy to start with younger students.
Fluency passages are another great way to apply those beginning skills in a higher level activity. They can be simple passages that include basic sight words and decodable cvc words. The goal is for the reader to understand what they are reading and develop comprehension skills. Reading the passage over and over will help with comprehension, accuracy and speed.
Here is an example of a simple reading passage with simple words for a younger child to start with:
I have a cat. The cat sat on a mat. The cat can see a rat. The rat runs fast. The rat runs on the mat.
There are several ways you can support your reader in building their fluency skills. The important thing to remember is that everyone learns at their own rate and this is a skill that takes a lot of practice. If you are looking for great resources, you check out our Alphabet Fluency Bundle here.