While many studies indicate various reasons for problems with reading fluency involving both cognitive and physical difficulties, three major problems in reading fluency tend to surface most often. Children who suffer from problems with reading fluency also suffer from difficulties with decoding, processing skills, and lack of practice with speed and accuracy.
Decoding skills include the ability to break words into syllables, apply knowledge of letter sounds, and correctly pronounce words. Children who do not grasp those concepts struggle with reading fluency. They tend to complain that they "get stuck" when trying to sound out a word or indicate to a parent or teacher that reading is "just too hard." Ways to help children at home include constantly talking about letter sounds, playing with magnetic letters, pronouncing letters on street signs, and paying close attention to printed words. A systematic phonics program helps teach decoding skills in the classroom environment.
Auditory, Phonological, and Language Processing Disorders
Auditory processing refers to skills related to how the brain recognizes and interprets information that a student hears. Students hear the words but have difficulty processing the information. Phonological processing refers how the brain processes speech sounds. Children have difficulty pronouncing developmentally appropriate words correctly. Language processing includes a variety of language skills including reading and writing. A language processing disorder includes problems retrieving commonly used words, misusing words that have similar sounds, and the inability to complete a sentence or thought. Children with processing disorders may exhibit all or any combination of such disorders. Certain tests help determine if a child suffers from a processing disorder. Ways to help children cope with processing disorders include a wide variety of options. Parents and teachers should work together with trained professionals to determine the best path for the child.
Practice With Speed and Fluency
Lack of reading practice affects reading fluency. Allowing more time to read in school and at home helps improve fluency. Children need to read both silently and aloud. Encourage children to carry a book with them at all times. Allow them to read aloud while traveling in the car or waiting for a doctor's appointment. Set aside a special place at home where the child can read without interruptions. Make time to listen to the child read. Pay close attention to difficulties with letter sounds, pronunciations of words, and areas of frustration. Ask questions about the content to check for comprehension problems. Play games such as reading road signs when traveling. Whenever possible, children need to read.
Tina Truelove began writing in 2010, contributing to various websites. She has a Georgia teaching certificate and holds a Bachelor of Science in early childhood education from North Georgia College & State University.