As your Kindergartner begins learning the High Frequency Words, the exciting thing is that a whole new world suddenly opens up!…that of reading! A variety of books written by authors such as Dr. Seuss make reading exciting for beginning readers. All of that work in learning those High Frequency Sight Words is now beginning to pay off and have a purpose. Ahhh…
The next step is to develop what is called Reading Fluency. What is reading fluency? In a nutshell, it is three things:
Beginning readers are forced to read slowly because they have to decode words they don't know. Listening to a beginning reader and that choppy oral reading can make parents clench their fists under the table and want to scream (don't do it! Look at all the effort that's taking place here!). It is difficult for a listener—there is no melodic tone, the rate is inconsistent, and later, when asked questions about what was read, guess what? The child often cannot answer any comprehension questions. Why? All that decoding took up so much energy that this is where the focus was.
Children who have developed reading fluency gain reading comprehension! Fluent readers do not have to concentrate on decoding words and can focus on what the sentence means instead of the laborious task of figuring out each word. The reader can connect the ideas that are in the words. Wow!
Does reading fluency ensure comprehension? No, of course not. It can definitely help, though, because without fluency, comprehension is going to become difficult (think of it this way: if you can't read a passage, will you be able to figure out what was in it?).
Does knowing just the High Frequency Sight Words ensure comprehension? Absolutely not! How about being able to decode words? Nope. So, what can we do to help children develop reading fluency? Read on…
First, know that reading fluency takes T-I-M-E. It develops gradually and won't happen overnight. And, it requires PRACTICE…regular practice. Just like learning to walk or drive or anything else, regular practice is essential. And, there are many ways to go about the practice and no one way is going to be THE way either.
If you would like to work with your child on developing reading fluency, check out the page of Practice Activities (or ask your child's teacher for suggestions).
IMPORTANT NOTE: Do NOT force your child nor expect your child to become a FAST reader. Speed is not the most important component of reading fluency! Reading fluency is not, nor should ever be, a contest!