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How to help kids become more fluent readers

By Ginny Osewalt

Reading fluency is the ability to read at a good pace, with accuracy, and with the right expression. Fluent readers also understand what they’re reading.

Here are some ways kids can improve their fluency:

  • Listen to models of fluent reading, like read-alouds. Audiobooks can also be great models of reading fluency. 

  • Practice sight words so kids can automatically recognize words.

  • Have kids read a short text at their reading level several times. Count how many words they read correctly in one minute. Record the results on a graph. Repeat several times. (This is called “repeated readings.”) Soon they’ll see that their speed and accuracy improve.

  • Read a sentence together. Then draw slash marks to “chunk” the text into meaningful phrases of three to five words. Kids should take a short pause at the slash marks when reading.

Dive deeper

Why kids struggle with reading fluency

There are a few reasons why kids struggle with fluency. If they don’t know many sight words, they have to sound out more words. (This is called decoding .) That makes kids read slower and at a choppy pace. 

Plus, when kids read slowly, it’s hard for them to “hold on to” the words long enough to make meaning of what they’ve read.

Some kids are good at decoding and sight words, but they don’t understand what they read. When that happens, they may read in a monotone voice and without expression.

See more reasons why kids might read slowly .

Next steps

For families: Use conversation starters to talk with your child’s teacher about trouble with reading and fluency.

For educators: Learn more about how to use audiobooks , teach sight words , and chunk text into phrases

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