Fluent readers can read text correctly at an appropriate pace and with expression, reports Reading Rockets. Struggling readers may have difficulty with tasks such as remembering common words, decoding words quickly, paying attention to punctuation or keeping track of which words they're reading. Teachers can be a big help to struggling readers, but parents can use fluency strategies to help their struggling reader at home, too.
Model Fluent Reading
Sometimes when children begin to read independently, we stop reading to them and focus on them reading to us. While that can be a great tool in improving reading skills, it doesn't give children the opportunity to hear fluent reading as often. Scholastic suggests reading aloud to struggling readers often and with great expression. After reading, discuss what fluent reading sounds like and what helps you read so well. Books with a strong rhythm are helpful when describing how to read phrases with expression and fluency.
Echo reading is when new or struggling readers read a line or paragraph right after an experienced reader does. With echo reading, struggling readers can focus more on expression because they won't have to worry about decoding new words. Echo reading can also help children recognize familiar words more quickly. Parents can use echo reading with high interest books that might otherwise be difficult for their struggling reader to read independently.
Another strategy that parents of struggling readers can use at home is recorded reading. Children can follow along in their text while listening to a fluent reader read the text. Audiobooks are one way parents can use this strategy at home, but parents can also record themselves reading the text, either on a smart phone or computer, and then let children practice with that.
Vocabulary Flash Cards
Sight words are words that readers should recognize by sight; they either can't be sounded out, like the word "the," or they are so common that readers shouldn't need to sound them out each time, like the word "like." Some struggling readers have difficulty with sight words, so one option is for parents to make flash cards using index cards, markers and a sight word list from the child's school. Kids can take a few minutes to say, spell and write each word every day. If the child know his sight words but has trouble remembering words from a particular text or subject, you can help him make flash cards for those words.
In classroom situations, teachers often have students perform Reader's Theater. In Reader's Theater, children have copies of the text in their hands while they perform a short play or story for their classmates. The key is that the children rehearse their text and practice reading it fluently before going in front of the class. Gathering twenty neighborhood kids in your living room probably isn't practical, but you can still use a similar strategy at home. Have your child choose someone to read to, such as a younger sibling, a cousin or even your dog. Then help him practice reading a text fluently so that he can read it confidently to his chosen reading buddy. Again, texts with a strong rhythm can help a struggling reader hear where the spoken emphasis should be, which can help him learn to breathe in the right places and use the correct phrasing as he practices.
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