Reading fluency is the ability to read text accurately, quickly and with expression. There is a very strong correlation between reading fluency and reading comprehension.
Fluent readers have moved from decoding (sounding out) words to accurately reading whole words, which is why it is important for children to practice, practice, practice their oral reading. Building up their sight vocabulary so they can automatically recognise words, reduces the load on their working memory, meaning they can concentrate on understanding what they are reading (comprehension) rather than using all their brain space sounding out.
There are three core components of fluency:
Accuracy: Building their bank of sight words so they have a vast store of words that are immediately recognised. Inaccurate word reading leads to a breakdown in meaning.
Rapid Rate of Reading: This shows us that children have good word identification processes and that words have gone into long term memory and become automatically recognised. We test accuracy and rapid rate of reading through our Words Correct per Minute Testing (WCPM)
Prosody: This is reading with expression, and using punctuation, which supports better comprehension and enjoyment.
South Padbury PS builds reading fluency in students, starting in Kindergarten and Pre-Primary with letter/sound knowledge. Once children know the letters of the alphabet and the sounds they make, they can then start to sound out (decode) words and practice building their vocabulary with common sight words. From there children learn to sound out CVC words (dog, cat), then sounds such as ‘sh, ch, th’, followed by CCVC (shut, chop) and CVCC words (with, wish). They continue to grow their word knowledge and start to recognise these words automatically, which in turn supports beginning reading.
Important Note about Home Reading Books
Improving fluency demands that the text/book is at the reader’s independent level, meaning the child can read the book aloud with at least 90% accuracy. This is why home readers often appear ‘easy’ for students, as their purpose is to build speed and accuracy. Some parents want ‘harder books’ because their child can already read those being sent home. Yet those books provide children with opportunities to develop appropriate expression, practise reading skills and improve sight word knowledge and vocabulary, while most importantly building confidence and belief in themselves as readers.