Learning to read fluently is vital because fluency is the bridge between word recognition and comprehension. Fluent readers do not have to focus on decoding each word; instead, they can focus their attention only on what the text means. Fluency not only makes reading a pleasure, it also makes children eager to read, thus helping them learn much faster and more easily.
Reading fluency does not just happen automatically once a child starts to read, however; it is a skill that must be learned. When your child first begins to read, his attempts will be slow and labored because he is working at “breaking the code”—that is, attaching sounds to letters and then blending those letter sounds into words. The child will also read words individually, even if they are part of a sentence.
The next step for your child, then, is to learn how to divide text into meaningful chunks, called “phrases,” so he knows when to pause appropriately and how to add emphasis and tone to what he is reading. The skill of reading fluently develops gradually as children become more familiar with words, groups of words, and complete texts.
The most important reason for developing fluency in reading is comprehension – the child must understand what he is reading. That is why the All About Reading program uses six different strategies to help children develop fluency. We teach children how to read smoothly and accurately so they can easily grasp the meaning of what they are reading.
To increase familiarity with words, every level of our program uses “Word Bank” activities to teach your child how to read words in isolation. And, starting right away in Level 1, we have your child reading words in short phrases and meaningful “chunks,” as well as in complete sentences. This combined instruction gives your child plenty of familiarity with words, their meanings, how they look and sound by themselves, and how they are used to convey meaning and emotion when used in phrases and sentences. We then teach your child how those phrases and sentences are combined in text to tell complete stories by providing plenty of reading practice in our activity books and readers.
Our beautifully illustrated readers are full of original stories written specifically to encourage reading fluency. Not only are they 100% decodable based on the lesson your child is learning, but they also provide plenty of practice with phrasing and comprehension. And as an added benefit, our Level 1 readers are designed with intentional line breaks to help your child learn and understand phrasing.
Of course, one of the most important tools to help your child develop fluency is reading practice itself. However, a child who only reads silently to himself won’t necessarily learn to read fluently, and that is why we encourage you to spend 20 minutes a day reading aloud to your child during or after every lesson. Your child needs to hear you read aloud so he becomes familiar with how a reader’s voice can help written text make sense. Your child also needs you to listen to him read aloud, gently showing him where and how to improve.
Remember, reading fluency growth develops gradually, and the growth is greatest when your child can share what he is learning with you and receive your special encouragement to continue on.