Helping Your Child Read with Fluency: Accuracy
What is Reading with Fluency?
Reading with fluency is the ability to read words automatically in a manner that flows naturally as if speaking. Fluency encompasses a number of skills: speed, accuracy, expression, and comprehension. Each of these skills are equally important and are developed in different ways. One question that parents ask is, how do I help my student read more fluently?
I will be writing a series of posts and making videos in which I explain each of the four components of reading fluently and describe ways you can better help your student succeed in reading fluency.
While speed is the first skill listed, and many people consider speed to be reading fluency, I think speed is the last skill to be developed. First, students need to read with accuracy.
Reading with accuracy is the ability to read all of the written words correctly. Even fluent English speakers struggle with this. There are many types of errors that can be made: inserting words, leaving out words, pronouncing the words incorrectly, saying the wrong word. All of them affect your child’s rate of accuracy.
What Can You Do to Increase Your Child's Accuracy?
Practice Sight Words
Sight words are the words that someone can recognize and read within two seconds of seeing them. There are many different sight word lists, such as the Dolch list. Any of them would be a good start. They go up through different reading and grade levels. Start with the most basic level and see if your child knows the words. Then increase in increments until your child starts missing words. If your child misses 3 in a row for a level, or more than 5 for the whole level, stop. This is where you need to begin working. Making paper or digital flashcards is a good strategy for learning sight words.
Practice Segmenting Words
Segmenting words is the process of breaking them down into the syllables and parts of the words. For example, the word “experiences” can be broken down into ex-per-i-enc-es. Breaking down the syllables or smaller sound parts of a word can help students to learn the correct pronunciation of a word. When practiced enough, these words that students need to decode will become sight words that they recognize immediately.
Listen to Audiobooks While Reading the Book
Listening to a native English speaker read the book aloud can help students attach spoken words to print and understand how to pronounce the words correctly. This will not only increase their vocabulary and sight word recognition, but they will also be able to associate the way a native speaker would say the word with the spelling of the word.
While many people see fluency as speed, it is not the only skill addressed in fluency. Of course you want your child to be able to read and sound natural, like a native speaker, but what good does reading with speed do if there are so many mistakes that your student cannot be understood? If your child is struggling with reading with accuracy, the best thing you can do is have your child slow down. Speed will come as accuracy improves, but accuracy cannot improve if your student is going so fast that they are not taking the time to be accurate while reading. You can try timing your student, placing a stopwatch next to them so they can track their speed, or having them elaborate their breaths or pauses after commas, colons, semicolons, and periods.
Practice reading, and reading often, is the number one way to increase a student’s accuracy. The trick is, however, to not only have your child read silently, but to also have them practice reading aloud. Reading aloud is how fluency is tested and if all of a student’s practice is reading silently, it will be incredibly difficult for them to read aloud. Also, I have found that many people, myself included, read much slower when they read aloud and are more likely to make mistakes. This is partly due to the fact that we have more practice reading silently than reading aloud. Your student can read aloud to themselves, a sibling, a friend, you, another family member, or whoever is willing to listen!
Still Need Help?
What can you do if you have tried everything on this list and your child is still struggling?
Whether you feel like you cannot help your student or you are at your wit’s end because you have tried everything imaginable, sometimes you just have to ask for outside help. If you have already talked to your child’s teacher and there has not been any improvement, it is time to hire a tutor. A tutor can work with your child to individually address the issue and give one-on-one support for increasing your student’s accuracy while reading. They will practice the things mentioned above and monitor your student’s progress to determine the best course of action. Then, if you have the right tutor, they will try other techniques that fit your child’s unique abilities, interests, and learning styles.
If you feel that you need a tutor for your child, contact me below for a free consultation.