Teenage girl reading a book in library

July 3, 2021

Scottsdale Living

Struggling readers intervention: 4 strategies for improving reading fluency

Fluency in reading is a valuable skill most kids struggle to learn. Most children can’t read with speed, accuracy, and proper expression. Teachers and parents can try different programs that make reading fun.

There are multiple reading programs available for kids struggling with reading. The trick is to know how to choose the best. If you’d like to start improving a child’s reading skills right away, here are four strategies you can use.

1.   Be a Model

When you read fluently, you set the pace. You show the child how to spell different words and which expressions to use. Read an age-appropriate book out loud and use facial expressions. Afterwards, take time to expound on reading elements like natural prosody, proper usage of question marks, and rising intonation.

After the reading session, ask the child questions–like what they noticed as you read and how they can keep their audience engaged. Allow them to express their thoughts freely. You can expose the child to different genres–such as poetry and fiction–to spark their interest and help them to love reading.

2.   Try Choral Reading

Choral reading is group reading done in unison. It’s a great way to build reading fluency and to boost self-confidence. It is very ideal for learners who may feel nervous or self-conscious when reading alone.

Here’s how to do it:

• Pick a short passage that any student can read independently (don’t worry about the fluency as long as they can recognize most words and spend little time sounding them).

• If you’re a teacher, put the reading passage in an overhead projector. If you’re a parent, write the paragraph in bold on a piece of paper or an electronic device.

• Read the passage out loud, and instruct the participants to follow along.

• Once you’re convinced that they can recognize the words, let them reread loudly along with you. They should try to match your expressions and speed.

Funny poems, nursery rhymes, and song lyrics are fantastic pieces to use.

3.   Encourage Repeated Reading

Struggling readers can improve reading fluency when they read the same words multiple times. Let the child read a short passage several times out loud. Silent reading may not benefit learners trying to improve their reading fluency. Also remind them of the reading criteria—to read fluently, quickly, and with expressions.

The child can pick a paragraph from a book they enjoy reading. But it should be short, between 100-200 words. Create a copy for each child–and for yourself–and read the words in a loud voice. Afterwards, discuss with them reading behaviors such as intonation, phrasing, speed, emphasis on specific phrases and words. Then ask the kids to read the passage repeatedly as a group. You can also try echo reading, read a line, and let the children read it back to you.

4.   Organize a Readers’ Theatre in Class

Host a readers’ theatre and have the struggling readers perform. Use a story that can be divided into parts to engage as many children as possible. The focus should be on loud reading rather than memorizing lines.

Here’s how to go about it.

• Give each child a copy of the script and read it aloud to them naturally and fluently.

• Do choral or echo reading and involve all the participants.

• Once they are familiar with the script, choose a few kids and assign them parts.

• On the stage, place them according to the importance of their part and tell them to make eye contact with the audience. They can stand or sit on stools, depending on the play.

• Instruct them to hold the scripts at the chest level to avoid hiding their faces

• Videotape the performance and give them copies to watch with their families or friends later on

Apart from building reading fluency, reader’s theatre also promotes critical skills like teamwork and cooperation.