Reading fluency is the ability to read words correctly and quickly. It is the process of promptly recognizing and understanding phrases or sentences rather than identifying individual words. Speed readers read effortlessly, recognizing words naturally without being wobbled.
A widely recognized problem faced by young children is that of slow reading. Brown & Hirst state, that a slow rate reader is unable to hold enough detail in short-term memory to permit an understanding of the overall message of the text. Children who are not smooth readers read falteringly, struggling to sound out each word. Such children use most of their mental energy determining words, rather than focusing on comprehension. Hence they are unable to figure out what they have been reading about. Reading for them is simply stringing out the list of words.
Christine Nuttall, author of Teaching Reading Skills in a Foreign Language, states that reading speed without comprehension is worthless. She says that children learn to read in the same way they learn to speak, that is through observing, modelling and practising.
However, children can develop reading fluency or speed reading through some simple and fun activities. Here are some tips to make your child read faster and comprehend the meaning of the text as well:
Create a space for learning: Try to make your child start reading in a separate space where there are no interruptions and distractions. This would help him focus on the words better. Prepare a reading-friendly room with a comfortable chair, sofa or a bed with proper lighting.
Learning by Rote: Encourage your child to memorize short books, poems or even religious chants. This would make the child learn the rhythm of language besides giving him a sense of achievement. You can add gestures and dance moves to make it an interesting and enjoyable activity.
Start with something easy: Give your child something easy or simple to start with. Read books that your child enjoys and set a timer to set the speed of reading. Gradually increase the speed of the timer. Here it is important to let the child set his own pace and have fun at whatever he is doing.
Run finger under the words: When the child reads ask him to run fingers under the word. This would help him pay attention to the words he is reading and comprehend better.
Challenge your child: Set goals and challenges for your child to beat his own reading record through repeated readings. Try motivating your child by setting goals to increase reading fluency.
Do not force read the child: Do not force your child on letters, or words. Instead, make a fun game out of it and find ways to motivate his curiosity and enthusiasm.
Read several times: Let your child read the passage at least four times until he is able to read it fluently. Discuss what your child understood in the passage, let him express his thoughts and answer his questions.
Celebrate success: Listen to the first and last recordings of his reading. Listen to the difference of time and fluency and between the two readings and celebrate your child’s success!