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Strategies to develop early reading fluency
In order to read fluently children have to employ many skills.
The ability to read high frequency words with automaticity is key to developing confidence and fluency and is a skill that children with the specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia find particularly challenging. It is essential that these children are given many opportunities to overlearn in a multisensory way.
Reading walls can be used to record the words that a child is learning to read. Teach the child the word using a flash card, using tracking exercises, by highlighting the tricky part etc. Review regularly using flash cards and tick the word on the reading wall each time the word is read by the child without hesitation. When a word has 5 ticks by it, date it and highlight it as known. Every so often, revise previously learnt words to ensure that they have been retained. If the word has been forgotten, re-teach. The reading wall should soon have a mix of known, partially known and new words on it at one time.
Good readers use a range of strategies when reading text. Children who are learning to read or who are having difficulties acquiring this skill, often get 'stuck' when they rely on one or two strategies only. Children need to be taught these different methods in guided reading sessions or when heard by an adult. Using a miscue analysis (or running record) will help you analyse the strategies a child uses.
Once a child has been taught to read a high frequency word, they need to be taught to read it rapidly and without hesitation in order to improve reading fluency. For children with a specific learning difficulty (including dyslexic type difficulties), this often requires overlearning.
Speed reading sheets are designed to allow additional practice. Write approximately 5 words that you have taught the child. Repeat these randomly across the grid. Ask the child to read the words in the grid (tracking across the grid as they would in reading) as quickly as they can. Record their time. The grid can be used as part of the child's homework with a parent timing. Challenge the child to beat their previous time. Change the words regularly as new words are learned.
Games make overlearning fun and increase the likelihood of new learning to 'stick'. Try using a ‘4 in a row’ grid e.g. it can be used when reading flash cards to increase reading fluency. Play with pairs of children who have their own coloured set of counters. Every time a child reads the word correctly, they place a counter on the grid. The children take turns. The first child to get four of their counters in a row, is the winner. If a child is playing with an adult, it can be adapted so that the adult can only place a counter on the grid if the child makes an error. Hopefully this will increase the chance of the child winning!
Blank Four in a Row Game