Why do we want students to be fluent readers?

Fluent readers ‘sound like good readers’. They read aloud easily and with expression. Their reading sounds natural, as if they are speaking. Readers who have not yet developed fluency read slowly, word by word, and sound ‘like a robot’.

Fluency can be important for motivation. Word-by-word reading takes a long time and it can be exhausting. Most students who learn to read fluently discover that they can enjoy reading!

Fluent readers recognise many words automatically, and they group words quickly into meaningful chunks / phrases, to help them understand what they read.

Readers who read word-by word are usually only thinking about one word at a time, i.e. they are not thinking about the surrounding words to understand what is happening.

By running words together, like talking, it is easier to predict which words are likely to come next.

E.g. Jack’s ……red…….car……..went………up…….and………d_____.

If you are only thinking about one word at a time you are not as likely to guess that the last word will be ‘down’. (The student may say a different word, e.g.  don’t , which does not make sense.)

Fluent readers can focus their attention on what the story, or text, means. They can make connections between the ideas in the book and their background knowledge (what they already know / have experienced). Fluent readers are more likely to recognise words and comprehend / understand at the same time. Less fluent readers, however, must focus their attention on solving the words, leaving them little energy for understanding the text / book.

From the very first lessons, Reading Recovery teachers insist that the students read fluently. They model the difference between fluent, and word-by-word reading. They prompt- how are you sounding? Are you reading with your slow voice? Even just the comment ‘robot’ can prompt the student to sound better.

As you are hearing your child read, check how the reading sounds. Is your child dragging out the words like: ‘said……….…Billy’ or putting them together quickly like ‘said Billy’?

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