This is the time of year that many of our students are really making gains in their reading. They have confidence and are willing to try new books. They see length as a big deal. Chapters are even a bigger deal. Children are thrilled to walk out of the library with a book that just looks older!
And then teachers tell students to continue to work on their fluency. To be a fluent reader, students flow through text with expression and articulation. The easier the texts comes together for a student, the easier it is to comprehend what they just read. If a child stumbles, then by the end of the sentence or paragraph they might not even remember what was at the beginning. So yes, teachers make a big deal about fluency.
What does this all mean for a parent working with their child? I think fluency is one of the best strategies to support with your kid. Pull out favorite stories from when you used to read to them. Ask your child to read to you. Remind them that it was a favorite story you liked to tell to them. Point out that you would love to hear them read it to you. Give them the book to practice. Tell them how special you think it will be to hear it with their voice. Give them time to practice so they can shine and perform for you. Then find a special place to snuggle in together and listen to your child read. Enjoy it so much that you ask them to read it again and maybe again.
Remember how you read that same story over and over again at night to them? Now it is their turn. Ask them to read it to you again. Suggest they read it like their teacher or like their favorite cartoon character. Using different voices keeps them engaged but also helps them to feel words flowing. Call up grandma on the phone or your friend or sit the dog down to read. Give them opportunities to build that fluency of text. It really will build their confidence too.
Fluency is not something I grew up with, but it is something that I have learned as a teacher is so powerful. And as a parent, I have learned creative ways to help my child enjoy it as well. Have fun revisiting old stories. And just sit back and enjoy hearing words fly from your child’s mouth as they do one of those amazing talents… read!