How many times have you heard a child reading aloud, and it sounded like they were counting instead of reading? This is a problem that many teachers and parents face. It is caused by a lack of reading fluency. While it has long been recognized that fluency needs to be developed, teachers have been reluctant to teach it over the years. Fluency has been one of those skills that have been left to chance. However, fluency need not be left to chance, it can be taught. Here are some strategies to develop fluency in children:
1. Echo reading is modeled reading. An adult shows how a passage should be read taking care to show proper pronunciation and intonation. The adult reads a sentence or part of a sentence from the text and then the child follows trying to imitate the pattern shown by the adult. This strategy is effective because children have a model. They have a set guideline for how the passage or particular paragraph should sound.
2. Choral reading is another good way to develop reading fluency. During the choral reading, the teacher or adult reads along with a group of students. Choral reading is a traditional strategy that has been used by teachers for years. It is a good method. However, teachers should watch out for those students who simply cannot keep up with choral reading. This strategy usually intimidates them, and they will pretend to be reading but may simply be moving their lips. These children will usually succeed with other reading fluency strategies mentioned in this article.
3. Tape-assisted reading is a tried and true method of developing reading fluency. Students read aloud from their books while listening to someone reading the same book on tape. There are many books that now come with tapes so tape-assisted reading shouldn’t be hard to do even if you don’t want to record yourself modeling fluency. It is tedious to make tapes of yourself modeling reading, children however tend to appreciate the personal touch, be it from a teacher or a parent so before going out and buying tapes consider the do-it-yourself approach.
4. Peer reading is a strategy that partners a weak reader with a strong reader. This creates a support framework for the weaker reader and has often proven to be highly effective as the strong reader usually models fluency for the weaker reader. The personality of the partners selected for peer reading should be taken into consideration as some people get along together better than others. If the level of friction between the two partners becomes too high you might have to find a new partner.
5. Children enjoy drama, and they like it even better when they get to be the players in that drama. Let them act out scenes from a book using the dialogue from the story. This activity is good for developing reading fluency, and it is also fun. While they are having fun they will be learning how to express themselves and learning drama skills at the same time. Playing a character from a book requires them to focus more on the details of the character’s personality. Acting it out is not just good for reading fluency it is good for reading comprehension as well.