Instructional strategies

7 Ways to Improve Reading Fluency

By Ginny Osewalt

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Reading fluency is the ability to read quickly, accurately and with the right expression. Fluent readers understand what they read. Here are some strategies that can help your child become a better reader.

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Father reading to his son
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Model fluent reading.

Read to your child to show what fluent reading sounds like. Choose stories and books that will interest her. Read naturally, with the right emotion or tone to match the words you’re reading. If you’re busy, you can also have your child listen to audiobooks as she follows along with the matching book.

A brother and sister reading together with their parents’ guidance
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Try guided practice.

Choose a short piece from a story or a poem, and read it aloud while your child listens and follows along. Then read just the first line of the piece and have your child read it back to you. Read the second line of the piece and have your child read it back to you. Continue until you have completed the piece. Repeat several times.

Mother and father reading a bedtime story to their young son
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Read together.

Choose a book or passage that is not too long and read it while your child listens and follows along. Then read the same book or passage several times together.

Father helping son reading
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Try repeated readings.

Choose a short book or passage of a book that is just a little above your child’s reading level. Have your child read it through. If your child doesn’t read a word correctly, or hesitates for longer than five seconds, read the word out loud and have your child repeat it. She should then continue reading. After you complete the entire reading, have her read it again three or four times over.

Close up of a teen girl writing a list on paper
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Perform some readings.

Passages that are meant to be read at a performance, like poetry, scripts, speeches and jokes are all great ways to develop reading out loud. After she practices all week, your child can “perform” for the family.

Father and children in the kitchen performing with pots, pans and wooden spoons
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Time and graph some reading practice.

Choose a short piece at your child’s reading level and make a copy for yourself. Have your child read it out loud for one minute. Together, count up the number of correct words she read in that minute. Have your child record the result with a bar graph. Your child should read the same passage three or four more times. Continue to graph each result. Soon she will see that her speed and accuracy are improving.

Mother giving praise and support to her young son
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Praise meaningfully.

Use praise to develop your child’s self-awareness. Use comments like “I love how you made your voice strong and loud so I knew what you said was important” or “You got all the words right. But it was hard for me to follow some of what you were saying because you read so fast.”

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About the Author

Portrait of Ginny Osewalt

Ginny Osewalt

Ginny Osewalt is dually certified in elementary and special education with 14 years of experience in general education, inclusion, resource room and self-contained settings.

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