Imagine one day you wake up to utter silence in the house. No tantrums, no daunting cleaning sessions, everything in the toy house seems to be just perfect. You are able to do all your tasks without even the need to handle a child running around like a pressure cooker whistle!
Instead, your little one is cuddled in the reading corner, engaged in one of those books that you picked up for them last year. Without any help, they are able to read clearly and at a decent speed.
Sounds like a dream, right?
I bet not one mindful parenting book you read told you this was a possibility! Well, then the alarm startles you from this sweet dream into reality.
As parents, we have often wondered how to inculcate reading habits in kids and, moreover, how can we improve their reading speed?
In this blog, let's look at the latter.
What do I mean by reading speed?
On average, a mediocre reader reads at speeds of around 250 wpm (words per minute) from non-technical material, with a comprehension of about 55% to 60%. While good readers read above 1,000 wpm with nearly 80%- 85% comprehension.
This means that a 200-page book has around 50,000 words.
If your kid can read 200 wpm, it will take 50,000 / 200 / 60 = 4.17 hours to read it. If your kid can read 500 wpm, it will take 1.67 hours to read.
If your kid can read 800 wpm, it will take only 1.00 hour to read a book. And, this is how your child can complete 2 to 3 books in a day.
Why does reading fluency matter?
Remember fumbling and struggling with words when the teacher in class asked you to read that part from the Geography textbook? Outloud? Well, I clearly recollect my trembling voice and shaky feet. Only after passing out from school did I realize that reading fluency can be mastered in the early elementary years. Sigh.
Why didn't my parents invest time teaching me the ways!
I have always aspired to read like this little 4-year-old girl who reads more than 1,000 books.
How does reading rate affect reading comprehension?
Children need to be able to "hold on to" the words they read long enough to learn how they work together and make meaning. The longer they take to read every word, the harder it will get for them to connect the words in the context of a sentence, paragraph, or story.
Explore the best child learning materials that can help improve reading speed for kids.
Is a "good reader" a fast reader?
Not really. I had friends who could read at a lighting speed but couldn't remember a word. That's when our high school teacher told us that being a good reader involves much more than hitting a certain words-per-minute target. Good readers read with expression and inflection. They read the same way they speak.
Now that you have understood the nuances of reading fluency, wondering how you can improve your child's reading speed? Here are 11 ways of doing so.
1. Read Aloud to Your Child
Even when your kid is old enough to read by themselves, hearing someone more practiced can help them improve their own reading skills. This way, they'll get a better sense of intonation, reading rhythm. And, if you pick diverse genres, they will develop an appreciation for all types of books.
2. Create a Reading Area
Give your kid a place where they can go, be comfortable as they read. Ideally, one that is filled with her very own books and children's learning material. While it may not benefit the technical elements of fluency, it will help build an overall love for reading.
3. Work on Phonemic Awareness
Many students have difficulty with reading fluency because they struggle to understand how the parts of words (like chunks, digraphs, and blends) are manipulated to form new words.
4. Build Sight Word Vocabulary
Sometimes known as core words, sight words are the foundation of a child's reading and writing skills. If they can't quickly recognize familiar words, your child is more likely to stumble as they try to sound out everything they are reading.
5. Paired Reading
Paired reading can involve alternating sentences as you read with your child or even reading aloud together. Just think of a signal to help your child indicate that they want to read a sentence by themselves or are stuck on a specific word.
6. Echo Reading
Echo reading is an excellent strategy for children who have unique technical reading skills and for whom prosody is a problem. If your little one struggles to read out the expressions in text, try reading a section and having them "echo" you, applying the same intonations and emphasis you used.
7. Pick Books Kids Can Relate To
Nothing gets children more engrossed in a book than recognizing that the character has the same struggles or concerns as themselves. Known as bibliotherapy, picking books that can help children find solutions to problems they are facing can help build fluency and deal with bullying and school refusal issues.
8. Invest in Audiobooks
Audiobooks (which some of us remember as "books on tape") are a phenomenal way for children to follow along with someone else's reading. Even better is the fact that your children can listen to their favorite book over and over again without you needing to read it a million times!
9. Practice Critical Reading
Fluency isn't just about recognizing the words and reading expressively at a fast pace. The children also need to understand what they've read and then be able to evaluate that knowledge. Critical reading is a crucial skill for third, fourth, and fifth graders.
10. Look for Reading Problems
Though you might not like to admit it, sometimes a non-fluent reader can be having trouble due to an underlying learning disability. If the strategies you're trying to promote reading fluency don't seem to be helping, keep your eye out for any signs of reading problems.
11. Keep in Touch With Your Child's Teacher
Parent-teacher communication is a critical element in student success, particularly when it comes to reading skills. Your child's teacher can let you know what level they are reading and can give you recommendations for books to help engage them at home.
Model fluent reading: Let the child see and hear what fluent reading should sound like. Induce plenty of expressions and emotion in your voices while reading, model proper phrasing and pacing, and then ask your child to imitate.
Stopwatch readings: Set a stopwatch for a minute, and have your kid read out a paragraph with as few errors as possible. See where your child stops or breaks fluency and work on improving those areas. Maybe there was a word they couldn't pronounce. In that case, ask them to repeatedly pronounce that word after learning its meaning. Then once again, ask them to read the passage with the timer set to one minute. This time the reading should be faster!
The one-minute read works as it is a manageable chunk of time, and the child will be able to practice many reads in a row without losing interest or focus.
Use a graph to keep track of the words your child has read per minute, along with the number of mistakes and challenging words. Your kid will be excited to know they are improving, so be sure to celebrate progress regularly.
Choral read-aloud sessions: "Choral reading" is when you read aloud and ask the child to follow at the same speed. Choral reading is a way to teach your child what fluent reading sounds like. Picking a book at the child's autonomous reading level (like educational books for kids, etc.) will make it easier to keep pace and maintain accuracy.
Marked reading: Take a paragraph and ask your kid to read as you silently follow another copy of the same section. Mark the places where your child stumbled (mispronunciation, skipped words, etc.), and continue practicing these words and passages. This can be done along with the stopwatch reading exercise or with the read-aloud activity.
To track improvement, mark the errors and challenging words every time the section is read. Again, remember to celebrate growth with prizes and plenty of cheers.
Re-reading favorite books: Always encourage your kid to re-read their favorite books. Some parents or teachers think discouraging children from reading the same books can help expose them to new information. But in reality, constantly reading fresh material doesn't help improve reading fluency at all. If anything, the more accustomed to reading a specific book your child is, the more fluent they become at reading it. This boosts their confidence, accuracy, and the speed needed to read fluently without concentrating on just the reading. Instead, helping them improve comprehension and mimic expressions.
Lastly, the best way to promote children's reading fluency is by encouraging them to read more frequently while keeping pace, accuracy, and inflections in mind. The more your children read, the better they will get at it!
And then, you really will get to live the dream we spoke about earlier, every day!