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Developing Reading Comprehension with Fluency Practice at Home

By: First Grade Teachers Julie Smith and Arika White

February 19, 2019

What is fluency?

Reading fluency is the ability to read a text at a steady rate, with expression and accuracy. Fluency has a direct correlation to reading comprehension, and can often be an indicator of your child’s understanding of a text. A common misconception associated with the term “fluency” is that a fluent reader is a quick reader. Children who read too quickly often insert or omit keywords, are unable to recall important details and read through punctuation.

Is your child ready to work on fluency?  

Students who are still learning to decode may not be ready to focus on fluency. A few signs that your child is ready include:

  • Reads in at least two- or three-word phrases

  • Reads many basic story words (said, the, yellow, etc.)

  • Can decode many story words using letter sounds/context clues/sentence syntax

Building fluency is important for readers of all ages. It is imperative that students continue to practice reading with expression well beyond the primary grades.

How can you provide fluency support at home?

Joke Books and Poetry

Many students love telling the same jokes over and over again! Allowing your child to read jokes, poems and short passages is a non-threatening way to support reading and fluency at home. Molly Ness, author of Laughing Through Rereadings: Using Joke Books to Build Fluency, states, “Jokes are the quintessential texts for oral delivery; they require that a reader attend to punctuation, intonation, and phrasing.” Poets such as Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky write poems that are humorous, short and fun to read.

Re-read Favorite Books

Re-reading familiar material can help your child focus less on decoding the words and more on the author’s meaning. Take turns with your child, modeling how to incorporate expression, planned pauses and intonation. Re-reading your child’s favorite books also helps reduce any stress associated with reading and builds confidence!

Reader’s Theater

Reader’s theater involves students reading a script adapted from literature. This tool can be used to motivate and engage children, and is fun for the entire family! The performance element to reader’s theater helps students to “take on” a character, provides repeated practice and allows parents to provide modeling and support.

Listen to Audiobooks

Audiobooks and websites such as Tumblebooks allow children to listen and follow along with a variety of stories. This approach builds auditory comprehension, enables them to hear the expression and rate of a skilled reader and exposes them to books slightly above their independent reading level.


Rossman School, nestled on a 20-acre campus in Creve Coeur, is an independent private preparatory school for students in Junior Kindergarten (four years old) through Grade 6. The school’s mission is to provide a strong, well-balanced education in a nurturing school community committed to excellence. Dedicated to developing personal, nurturing relationships with each child, Rossman’s experienced educators provide a solid foundation in academics, athletics and arts while emphasizing strong character development and leadership skills.​ Request a free Rossman School brochure here.

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