Kids that take a long time to read or do their homework typically actually have a reading problem known as reading fluency problems whether they have a learning disability, dyslexia, or ADHD. In fact even kids that are gifted can even have reading fluency problems.
In all my years as a learning disability specialist and educational therapist I can easily say that about 95% of the students I’ve seen in my 35+ years of teaching kids with reading problems have had reading fluency problems. Reading fluently describes how a skilled reader reads aloud.
Let me give you an example…I met Jason in March; he was in 4th grade. He had brown straight hair and a great smile, although he didn't smile very often then. He was floundering; it took what seemed like ‘forever’ to read. He repeated, skipped, and substituted words when he read, too. It was painful to listen to his stilted repetitive reading. His classmates were zooming right past him. His mom Kate was losing sleep over what to do and how to help him. She had already been told by the school that Jason would most likely be held back.
Kate, at a loss for what to do contacted me and told me what was going on. First I reassured her that there was much that she could do as a parent to help Jason. Then we got started.
I knew we needed to work quickly to get his reading level up so that he wouldn’t be held back. One of the keys to Jason’s improvement was reading fluency training which helped him to sound out words more quickly and read accurately without repeating, skipping or substituting words. By the end of his third session of specific fluency activities he had already improved his reading speed and accuracy. Within several days he went from 30 words per minute to 60 words per minute. His confidence soared.
What Causes Reading Fluency Problems
Reading problems are typically due to a combination of learning skills, areas of perception, that aren't working as well as they could, should, and can. And you can have a reading problem without having dyslexia or a learning disability.
So, what specifically was going on with Jason?
Jason did not have an actual learning disability or dyslexia. What Jason did have was a variety of areas of perception (visual, auditory, and tactile/kinesthetic) that weren’t working as well as they could have been which impacted his ability to read fluently.
Jason was very bright; he just couldn’t read quickly enough to gain meaning from what he read. So, to improve both Jason’s speed of reading and his comprehension, a major component of what we did was reading fluency training which improved his speed, accuracy, and comprehension as well as the areas of perception that were not working as well as they should have.
Most Important Activity A Parent Can Do to Boost Reading Skills:
Reading fluency is one of the most ignored reading skills and one of the easiest reading problems to address. I can easily say it is the most important thing a parent can do to give their kids a boost in reading.
Fluency practice is different than reading books or passages. It is actual practice reading words from left to right quickly. Studies have shown that kids improve their fluency more when they do fluency training for only 5 minutes a day. It is the consistency of the practice over a period of time that brings success.
When you practice with reading word (drills) from left to right aloud rather than reading passages aloud you can't anticipate the next word and you really can't memorize it because it isn't a passage, so reading drills are extremely effective for doing fluency training!
How to Do Fluency Training
Again, reading fluency practice only takes 5 minutes a day 3 to 4 times a week. You simply follow along as your child reads from a specially designed reading fluency drill, correcting any mistakes and then re-read the drill for 1 minute and keep track of how many words per minute are read and mistakes per minute are made.
Five Necessary Components to a GREAT Reading Fluency Program
- Phonological - incorporates every vowel and consonant combination in the English language, with lots of review built in.
- Perceptual - works on 16 areas of perception and ultimately changes the brain, making it easier to learn.
- Reading from left to right - we read from left to right so it is critical to strengthen the left to right eye-muscle movement required for quick reading
- Automaticity - reading more words automatically per minute on a daily basis.
- Record keeping device - charting their progress and seeing their improvement daily.
Where do I find a reading fluency program that does all of that?
Five Minutes to Better Reading SkillsTM is a GREAT fluency program because it incorporates the five components that need to be in place for reading fluency success and only takes five minutes a day.
Get your copy of Five Minutes to Better Reading Skills today!
Check out our Awaken the Scholar Within Reading/Writing/Study Skills program too! This Awaken the Scholar Within Program incorporates reading fluency, reading comprehension, writing, and study skills in just 20 minutes a day.
Bonnie Terry is the author of the best-selling Five Minutes to Better Reading Skills and the Awaken the Scholar Within Learning Programs (ASW Learning Skills, ASW Reading/Writing/Study Skills, ASW Spelling, and ASW Math Programs). She is the founder of BonnieTerryLearning.com. Take the FREE Learning Surveys to find out how to best help your child today! Reading problems really can become a thing of the past!