One of the most important aspects of a child’s education is ensuring they have strong reading fluency and comprehension. Having a solid reading foundation is critical for setting your child up for success in every aspect of their educational career and beyond. The journey to becoming a fluent reader doesn’t just start in elementary school, and it certainly doesn’t stay there. A plethora of strategies exist to help your child continue their reading fluency outside the classroom, and we are happy to share some of these skills with you in this blog!
At Resurrection Christian School, we are dedicated to help your child excel in reading fluency and comprehension. Our highly-trained teachers and assessments help target reading levels in a precise and exact manner, enabling students to grow in reading in a way that challenges them, but is not difficult. Read on to see how you can transfer this mindset to your home, and help your kids stay engaged in their reading development!
What Exactly is Reading Fluency?
At its core, being a fluent reader means that you can read at a good pace, while also understanding what you read. There’s a fine balance between pace, intonation, and comprehension. This seems simple enough, but becoming a great reader takes years and years of practice!
Some students are excellent decoders, meaning they have a mastery of how a certain language works; its rules and regulations. Being an excellent decoder means coming across a word you might not know, such as “quintessential,” and being able to figure out how it’s pronounced.
Being a great decoder, however, does not mean one automatically understands what a word means. Some readers excel in context clues, meaning they use the rest of the text to help them understand an unknown word’s definition. An excellent contextual reader means looking at a sentence such as “The water around the mountain flowed out from a tributary” and being able to deduce that “tributary” has something to do with a river.
Both of these parts of reading fluency must come together in great and practically equal strength in order for a reader to be successful. A child who only can decode words might seem like they’re fast readers, and therefore talented, but lack the comprehension. A student who can only use context clues will grow frustrated with not being able to get through a text in a fluid manner.
How Can I Tell if My Child is a Fluent Reader?
Resurrection Christian School assesses reading fluency through the DIBELS method, where students read letters, words, and/or a text (depending on the grade level standards). DIBELS focuses on progress monitoring, where students who are reading below grade level are given a timeline as to how frequently they should be assessed. This ensures that their progress is more closely monitored, and adjustments to their
For younger students, such as kindergarteners and first graders, much of the assessment focuses on phonemic awareness. Students at this age are asked to read individual letters, or be able to phonetically “chunk” or take apart a word. A 5-6 year old with a solid reading foundation will be able to hear or see a word such as “spot” and break it down to “sp/awh/t,” showing they understand how letters form to make sounds, which in turn comprise words.
Students after first grade will be tested by being timed to read a short text, with a follow-up of having to answer comprehension questions. DIBELS looks at how fast a student can read, as well as their overall understanding of the text, to gauge where students are at. Through this method, DIBELS addresses which areas should be focused on for your child’s reading development.
How to Help Your Child’s Reading Fluency Grow
No matter if you’re child is above, at, or below their grade level for reading, you want them to continue to grow. What parent wants their child to reach a plateau and say they don’t need to learn anymore? That’s not the kind of attitude that anyone should have, at any age in life. Additionally, if we don’t consistently practice at something, we lose the skills we have. This isn’t to say your child will not be able to read, but even the loss of reading stamina is a considerable deficit that can be easily prevented. Take a look at some ways to help your child continue growing in their reading outside of the school day!
This is one of the most obvious, seemingly easy things to do, and we’re including it because it makes such a huge difference. Engage in books with your child every day! Have them practice reading to you, read with them, ask questions along the way, praise them for reading, talk about how reading makes you smart—do everything to make reading an activity they will intrinsically grow to love.
Help Your Child Take Charge of Their Growth
One of the things teachers can do to encourage their students is to have students track and chart their DIBELS growth. You might be surprised to know that kids love graphing their progress, and seeing how they grow! Just as many adults are motivated to progress and improve, kids have much of the same mentality.
Make a chart with your family about books that are being read, and have your child color in or choose a sticker to represent a completed book. If your child needs a little extrinsic push, create a family celebration for filling up a chart (like a trip to the bookstore!)
As children get older, we know that the number of books read pales in comparison to their younger, picture-book-reading years. Change it up to track how many words they read! There areseveral ways to check the number of words read in a book—one of the best systems is AR Book Find, which also quizzes students when they finish a book.
Help Your Child Form Goals
In addition to tracking their growth at reading outside of school, work with your child to practice writing and forming goals, specific to their reading. Some children will be pleased enough to make a goal and achieve it, sans extrinsic motivation. This is definitely something to strive for, but everyone is different. Just as in a career, adults still work for promotions and bonuses, proving a little extrinsic motivation is not bad. If your child needs a little boost, tie in their goals with their data tracking. Here are some great goal ideas!
- I want to read _____ this many books in March.
- My goal is to read the __________ genre, because I haven’t read as much from that type of book style.
- I am driven to read every book that _______________ has written.
- I want to read 100,000 words this year!
- I am going to work at increasing my reading fluency to _____ words per minute.
Create an Ideal Reading Space
Maybe some people would want to read sitting upright at a desk all day, but for many of us, we need something a little bit different. Take blankets outside, build a reading fort, switch to “night reading” by turning off all the lights and breaking out the flashlights, or just have a really comfy chair. Any of these things will encourage reading as the cozy and wonderful activity it is!
Have Access to Books
Even if you don’t own a ton of books, even if your personal library is lacking, you can still provide access to books! If your child doesn’t have opportunities to read books they are interested in, they’re not going to be nearly as motivated to read.
Take frequent trips to the library, many of which offer great incentive programs for youth readers! The more your kids can read books that interest them, the more they will read.
Reading takes a lot of practice, but helping your child be a fluent reader is one of the best gifts you can give them. By practicing these reading fluency strategies outside of school, combined with the direct instruction children receive at Resurrection Christian School, your child will be set up for so much educational success. We are proud to offer highly-esteemed and recognized strategies and lessons for encouraging reading fluency, with over 90 percent of our readers at a fluent level.
They say knowledge is power, and if there’s anything that takes us there, it’s being a fluent reader. Try these strategies with your young ones, and contact RCS today to look into enrollment!