Building Fluency

Today, at the dentist, the dental hygienist asked how he could help his daughter improve her fluency.  This is a common question I hear and also a common area of eligibility for special education services.  There are a few factors that go into fluency.

Vision: Has your child been seen by a developmental optometrist.  I highly recommend an optometrist highly trained and experienced.  There can be visual deficits beyond acuity that could cause serious limitations to a child’s ability to learn.  Often, simply fitting them with the right prescription can make a world of difference in a child’s attention, focus and mental stamina. 

Word Attack: Also called, decoding, a child’s ability to break down a word  phonetically can impact their ability to read fluently.  When a child gets stuck on a work, can he or she use these skills to quickly separate the work into syllables, sounds, blend back together applying phonetic rules and patterns and then continue on in their reading? If this is an area of weakness, improvement of phonics, or even working memory skills might be needed.

The ‘Right’ book: Some students simply have not found the joy in reading quite yet.  If a child does not yet love to read, either it is still too laborious, or they haven’t found the right book.  The right book will create that movie in the mind, build a strong sense of suspense, excitement and imagination.  Some books will entertain or teach, and students will find enjoyment in whatever genre suits them.  Keep offering until something sticks!  

And remember, read to your child for as long as they will let you. Reading to your child allows them to find joy in the story, without having to think through ‘breaking the code’ of print.  It builds their vocabulary as they hear new words in context and create that picture of it in their mind.  It is also a great way to expose them to books above their reading level, and introduce new authors and genres.  

Always remember, to have fun with it!