Dramatically Improve Fluency

Fluency is how fast and smoothly a person reads. Generally, the better the fluency, the better the reading comprehension. Lack of fluency occurs when a reader has to keep stopping to "sound out" (decode) an unfamiliar word. Stopping too often and for too long, causes the reader to loose concentration, which impedes comprehension. The goal would be to help your children/students read without stopping too often. This is a 2-prong process and can be done over the same time period.

1. Teach the instant words (see below), allowing the reader to read them instantly without stopping at all. The lists are arranged in order of frequency, so the first twenty instant words are the most common words found in books. Start with those.

2. Reduce the amount of time it takes to decode (sound out) a word. Many words will look unfamiliar to your child simply because of letters added to the beginning or end of a simple, easy word he already knows. The letters stuck onto the beginning of a word are called onsets or prefixes. The letters added to the end of a familiar word are called suffixes. You can reduce the amount of time it takes him to decode the word, by teaching your child to pronounce the most frequently seen onsets and affixes (prefixes, suffixes) (see below). Once learned, your child will be able to recognize them in words and cover them with their fingers, so they are left with a smaller word to decode. They read the smaller word, then uncover the onset or prefix, read the word. It works like a charm! When the whole word has been decoded, he should read the entire word smoothly and continue to the end of the sentence. Then reread the entire sentence for understanding.

An additional help is to have your children/students reread short passages until smooth.


300 words button


300 instant words your child needs to know for reading, writing, and spelling fluency. If your child knows these words, s/he knows about 64% of all words in any book.




Onsets Button

Also included is a list of onsets. Onsets are important for students to know, so they can make the first sound of an unknown word and read on until a good stopping place. When a reader makes the first sound of an unknown word and continues to read, many times the reader can supply the unknown word based on the context of the sentence. Then have the reader read the sentence again. The list below contains instructions for how to teach the onsets. This system REALLY works because the children put an action to each onset, helping him/her remember the sound of the onset.
Prefixes and Suffixes Button Also included is a list of common prefixes and suffixes. Knowing how to pronounce these affixes will increase fluency. Readers can cover the prefixes and suffixes leaving a smaller word to read, then uncover the prefixes or suffix and say the entire word. A bonus is if your children/students can slowly learn the meanings of the affixes, it will increase their listening and reading vocabulary later. But first YOU must know them. If you go through our study unit, Word Analysis: Unlocking the Meaning of Words, you will be amazed at how often you can throw in little lessons that will help your children/students. For example, teaching a child that "un" means "not" will come in handy many times during conversations (unhappy= not happy) or tri = three (triangle, tricycle, triplets). You will be slowly helping them develop "word consciousness" which is a research-based practice for building vocabulary AND you will be giving them the tools to become independent learners.


Parents of Young Children Button
For downloadable resources written by a reading specialist



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This page last updated 03/14/2016