What is fluency?
When a child begins to move into the world of independent reading, there are several skills and strategies we can use to help them become happy, confident readers.
After a child has the building blocks of reading, the main focus shifts to developing a child's fluency as they begin to read independently. A fluent reader reads smoothly. They are no longer sounding out words or reading word by word. They also read with expression—meaning that they read with emotion and pauses that make it sound natural. Fluent readers also read with accuracy. They say all the words on the page without skipping or replacing any.
How can I help my child develop fluency skills?
A fluent reader will have an easier time understanding what they read and is more likely to enjoy reading. To help a child develop fluency, you can provide practice with sight words and with decodable texts.
- Sight words are words that kids should be able to recognize and say instantly. They are very common words and are often tricky to read and spell because they don’t match regular phonics rules. Words like "the," "and," and "is" are all sight words.
- Decodable texts are stories that are written completely using sight words and words that young learners can sound out using basic phonics skills.
Here are even more ways to help your child develop fluency. You can download this tip sheet below.
How can the Khan Kids app help develop fluency skills?
Helping to build fluency is something we love to do at Khan Academy Kids! Your learner can practice sight words right in our app. In the Library, select the Reading tab and choose 1st or 2nd grade from the dropdown menu. Scroll down until you get to Sight Words. Let your child practice one or two lessons at a time. Wait a few days and then go back to that same lesson to see if they still remember them. It’s normal to take a lot of exposure to memorize new sight words.
We also have decodable texts throughout our library. In the Books tab, scroll down to the Early Readers section of the Library. These stories are written using only sight words and words a young reader should be able to sound out. First, have them listen to the story read aloud by selecting the “Read to Me” button. Next, have them read the same story, this time choosing “Read by Myself." Have your child read the book aloud, and repeat the reading until they sound fluent. Be sure to stop or go back to listening to the book if they start to feel frustrated. For older children, you can try this same process using the 1st and 2nd Grade Early Readers in the Library. These books are also decodable, but they will have more difficult phonics patterns.
With over 300 books in the Khan Kids library, there are plenty of stories to choose from to help build your child’s fluency.
This is article #3 in our series of 5 articles about the path to reading. If you’d like to learn more, be sure to read the other articles!
Article 1) Pre-literacy: the period of time before a child begins to read or write
Article 2) Phonics: the connection between letters and sounds
Article 4) Comprehension: understanding and thinking about what you read
Article 5) Reading routines: developing lifelong readers