Ways to Improve Reading Skills and Fluency in Children

Fluency is the ability to read and assimilate text quickly. Although fluency is a key factor to building a bridge between word recognition and text comprehension, there is much more to fluency from the psychological point of view. If your child cannot read fluently, he’ll become bored very soon. You can enjoy reading only if you can read quickly.

The key to fluency is visualization. Help the child develop skills of visualization and you’ll help him enjoy reading. There are various ways to develop visual abilities. One of the best is drawing. It’s the transition between various types of comprehension that a child finds difficult at an early stage. Provide him with an exercise – say a word and make him draw it. Once he’s good at that, make it more difficult by asking him to illustrate a whole sentence or a short passage. This method works like magic.

Another technique of visualization is to learn to see with one’s mind eye. If I tell you about a Mediterranean holiday I’ve just had (well, I haven’t had a holiday for years but that’s not the point) you will have no difficulty seeing the sun, white sands and glorious sea with your mind’s eye. You can help your child develop these skills by daydreaming together. Try to pretend you’re somewhere else.

Once the skill of visualization is there, fluency will come naturally. Otherwise it is very difficult to read if you’re just reading out the words and trying to tie them together. In order to read efficiently you have to comprehend sections of texts (not separate words) and visualize what’s being read.

There is another method of improving fluency – a technical one. It is called one-to-one reading. The adult reads a passage of text providing a good model. Then the child reads the same passage trying to imitate what the adult has just done. Be patient though. Encourage, don’t criticize. The snag of this method is that the adult has to provide a god example i.e. read fluently!




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