Help for students struggling with reading fluency and comprehension

Reading speed in children

Fluent readers enjoy reading more than those who have to decode every word

Reading fluency refers to the ease with which a student reads. Fluent readers read more quickly and with automaticity in word recognition. They enjoy reading more than students who have to decode every word. And fluent readers can devote their available cognitive energy to comprehending what they are reading rather than expending all of their mental effort on word recognition.

Some students develop reading fluency intuitively while others approach each word as though it’s the first time they’ve seen the word. These students require explicit reading fluency training and, as Dr Sally Shaywitz from the Yale University Centre for Dyslexia and Creativity explains below, the most effective way to build fluency and in turn comprehension is with “guided repeated oral reading” where a student reads orally with guidance and feedback from a patient coach:

”….I urge parents of dyslexic children to make fluency training – repeated oral reading – their number one priority. Because it involves reinforcement rather than teaching a child a new concept, it is ideally suited for the home. Fluency training is something all parents can do for their child. It requires little time and minimal expertise, and it invariably works. You can read fiction, poetry, plans, and even single words or use commercial programs. In doing so you are training your child’s brain and helping build the accurate word models and the word form reading system necessary for quick and accurate reading. There are very few activities for the dyslexic reader that provide as much improvement for the amount of time spent as does guided repeated oral reading.”

Overcoming Dyslexia, chapter 19: Teaching the Dyslexic Child to Read.

When a child is struggling to develop reading fluency, parents often find it difficult to engage their child in oral reading activities. Reading practice is laborious and frustrating for children who struggle with phonics, decoding, spelling and vocabulary, and can lead to anxiety and learned helplessness.

The Reading Assistant program, formerly known as Soliloquy, as discussed by Dr Shaywitz in her book Overcoming Dyslexia, offers parents and educators a novel way to provide students with guided repeated oral reading practice.

Reading Assistant trialThis new program to Australia is unlike any other reading program:

  • Students participate in engaging computer-based exercises that require them to read out loud a range of interesting and age-appropriate stories.
  • State of the art speech recognition technology enables the program to listen to the student’s oral reading and intervene to provide assistance when they struggle to decode a word.
  • After reading the text, students are asked to answer a series of direct and inferential comprehension questions to keep them engaged and reading for meaning.

Call Sonic Learning’s team of health and education professionals on 1300 135 334 or email info@soniclearning.com.au to discuss how your child can benefit from the Reading Assistant program.

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