The moment a young infant starts to visually engage in the world around them, they are learning the basic components of reading. (Recognising faces, colours, locations.) When you go to do your grocery shopping, signs on the shelves and brand names are being imprinted into their memory. Encourage your child to take notice of this print and help them to recognise that it has meaning and conveys important information. This could be classified as Environmental Print.
As parents we all sing silly songs or repeat some nursery rhymes and play rhyming games which are really valuable to help children manipulate sounds and develop phonemic awareness. The bedtime story or favourite book may become very monotonous to adults but the child is learning core words by sight as they review it time and time again. Words and what they sound like and where to place emphasis is all part of what parents do when they read to their child.
We cannot express enough, our desire for parents to continue reading with young children and even as they get older they are learning how to decode unfamiliar words.
As soon as the components learnt from your early reading together has begun to sink in, you can then begin to look at the fluency of your child’s reading, both orally and silently. By fluency, we mean, a person who doesn’t read word-by-word or stumble through the page by sounding out every word they see. A fluent reader can also comprehend what they are reading. A fluent reader is likely to become a stronger writer and develop a greater range of vocabulary.
Fluency is important because without fluency, reading is not enjoyable. Fluent readers can easily pick up a book and read on their own, they enjoy reading during their holidays and gain so much more knowledge. Fluent readers can focus on the ideas behind the words and allow their own thoughts to form about what they are reading. Fluent readers learn to retain what they have read, which is most important.
6 Tips to Improve Reading Fluency
1. Model Good Reading – Use lots of expression, change your tone of voice and vary your speed to match what is happening in the story. Use a variety of sources, poems, narratives etc. Discuss with your child things like, How did they feel? Were they scared while you read the scary part?
2. Reading Together As A Family – By this I don’t mean each taking a turn. I mean, reading the same story together at the same time. Choose a poem to get you started.
3. Recording Stories – If you select a very short story or poem and record your child. Let them practice this story or poem by adding inflection to their voice and encouraging them to do another recording to hear the difference for themselves. This also helps if you have words that they find difficult to say, just record them and play them over again and again.
4. High Frequency Words – Lots of words are used regularly in print, for example: this, them, the, and, those, these. Create some lists of words that you would also consider to be high frequency words and have your child repeat them over and then jumble them up and repeat reading them over and over. This will help the child to recognize these words much more easily when reading a story.
5. Create a Regular Reading Time – Try to set 10 minutes aside during school time, for free reading. This can be something the child can choose, like a magazine, or a collection of library books. After school time, plan trips to the library to borrow new books. A story at bedtime is also a great way to keep the continuity and spend some precious time before they settle off to sleep.
6. Following Words – As you read a story you might like to ask your child to place their finger in the story book on the words as they are being spoken. This really helps them to connect with different words and tones. As they improve in their timing, you can start to ask them to read aloud with you. Some audio books may be useful for this purpose, but check it out first for yourself, as it may use ‘American’ pronunciation. Audio books can be more useful as a relaxing treat for your child.