We talked about the first two broad areas of reading development, phonemic awareness and the alphabetic principle. Now, we’ll turn to the next step which is reading fluency.
Once kids have caught on to the alphabetic principle, that is, they understand that specific sounds go with specific letters and letter combinations, they begin to slowly read as we know it…very slowly.
Now, one note here: Being able to read the letters and words doesn’t mean the child comprehends what he or she is reading in the early stages. Meaning must be assigned to the words as well. This can also be a painstaking process…parents recognize it well, and for early reading there is a lot of noun learning that goes on. “Here is a cow, see the cow, see the word cow, say /c/ /o/ /w/ – /cow/, good”. This happens numerous times, and even then, it’s a great deal of labor for the child to be able to read it and understand that the word and the picture, or object, are associated.
Kids go from letters in isolation, to words in isolation, to rudimentary sentences – “This is Bob”, “See Bob run”, It’s not very efficient in the beginning since the child hasn’t learned many words; they only have a few in their reading vocabulary. Fluency then, how fast a person can read words, becomes an easy measure to determine efficiency and progress. The development of fluent reading skills is that next hill that the child has to climb on his or her way to fully developing reading comprehension.
Fluency interventions are typically pretty straightforward, and can consist of different activities such as flash cards, paired reading, repeated readings, and other evidence-based strategies.
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