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.
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.
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.
Build their sight word bank. The more words they can read, the more fluent reader 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 skill 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 to read the same thing over and over. We help children become fluent readers by allowing for repetition. This can 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 the opportunity to practice the same skill over and over.
For long term learning, we don’t want students to always need to point to the letter / 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 the next.
Fluency passages are another great way to take 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:
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 every 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 or Alphabet Fluency Bundle here.