I am about to tell you what I believe to be the “secret sauce” in teaching kids to read. In my opinion, it is all about confidence. A child who reads with confidence feels good about reading, likes to read and wants to read. A child who struggles with reading does not like to read and does not want to read. A child who struggles does not have confidence. The trick to having a child who likes to read is building confidence with reading. So, how then do you go about building confidence in kids reading? What strategies can we use to build reading fluency?
How to build reading fluency:
How to build reading fluency in kids? Practice, practice, practice…. like anything that you want to get better at, you have to continually work at it. Reading is no different. When you are trying to help a child become confident in reading, you are working on the child’s reading fluency: What is reading fluency? Helping a child read accurately with expression…(and, at a good speed).
So… with reading fluency, we are looking for 1) accuracy, 2) expression 3) speed… basically, we are looking to make sure the student readings the correct words, understands what is being read (as indicated that the child is reading with expression), and, is reading at a good pace. (I get less concerned about how quickly a child is reading…more practice will help a child read faster -but, sometimes it is hard because adults just read faster than kids… if your child is understanding the text and reading it well, speed will come over time -no need to pressure a little one to speed up!)
So, reading fluency is reading with accuracy and expression..(and speed). How can we help improve this and build confident little readers? Practice!
Now… I am not going to leave you there. You are sitting at home (or school!) with a struggling reader and you want them to be confident and they hate to read…how do we get them to keep reading when they hate it? Mrs Karle’s Learn to read free program was actually built to grow a confident reader – a reader that is fluent with reading. How the program works: On the first day, children learn to read 2 sight words. This is all the learn. They learn to read the words “good” and “morning”. Easy. Most children find this easy. They can read Day 1 fluently – accurate, good expression, (fast). On day 2, we do not introduce any new words. The children learn what a comma does (pause, take a breath), and they learn what a period does (stop). Right there we are teaching the child to read with expression. When you come across a comma, pause and take a breath. When you come to the period, stop. We are building reading fluency. There are no new words…so the children can already read the word “good” and “morning”… Now the children PRACTICE reading those words with expression: Good Morning. Good, good, morning. Good, good, good. Good Morning. EASY! We have fluent readers on day 2. Day 3 they learn 3 new words! See a red… And, again the children naturally pick it up, understand the text has meaning and read it fluently. Children like to read because they see that reading has meaning…they love to practice, practice, practice, -reading to their dog, their stuffed animal, their mom, and their fish. The children feel confident they can read so they do!
Another way the program builds reading fluency is that we suggestion you do each reading “chorally” (reading out loud, together) with your student(s). By reading together, the child models your fluent reading. It also helps the child build confidence because he is not the only one reading, the most confident readers feel proud to be helping the struggling ones, and the struggling ones feel proud to be reading along side confident readers. Lastly, alongside teaching the sight words, Mrs. Karle introduces phonics, and then teaches phonics through her explicit phonics reading program. She then increases the fluency by helping students through word family word ladders. Word families are great because you teach a child to read one word: cat, for example, and then you show them how you can change the word and easily read many others: bat, sat, rat, fat, mat, pat, etc. Practicing phonics with word ladders is great practice for increasing reading fluency – you can easily see a child reading with accuracy, increasing speed, and understanding what they are reading! (Mrs. Karle quizzes the students what each word means in the word ladder).
So, when you are helping a child learn to read, you want to give your little reader confidence. If you have a struggling reader -take a step back and give your little reader confidence. Start them reading something they KNOW. They will like to read something they know. Read that 150 times…it won’t hurt them…in fact, it might even help them! Then add in a little of something new. This is how you build confidence in kids and this is how you improve reading fluency. Give it a try and see if you think confidence is the “secret sauce” when teaching a child to read.
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You can teach a child to read for free using our learn to read free program. If you wish to teach your child yourself, we have word for word instructions to teach your child to read.
Madreen Karle is a master first grade reading teacher with over 30 years of classroom experience. She taught reading in a special needs and English as a Second Language classroom. After retiring she wrote a reading program to help others learn how to teach reading. She is a trusted educator and author of 5 books to help teach children to read and write. In addition to her books, she is a mentor for 3 websites that give reading teacher tips (Mrs. Karle’s Sight and Sound Reading, Mrs. Karle’s Reading Patch, and Mrs. Karle’s Handwriting Patch). Through her teaching she learned that confidence was the key to learning to read. A child who is not confident at reading does not like to read and struggles to read. Mrs. Karle created “sunshine moments” to help teach children how to grow their confidence and learn to read.
Meeghan Karle Mousaw (Madreen’s daughter) has her Master’s in Special Education. She has 8 years experience teaching children to read online. In addition, she developed a curriculum to teach children handwriting called The Handwriting Patch. With the Handwriting Patch learning is fun because children learn to draw and learn handwriting at the same time. In 2019 The Handwriting Patch curriculum became an amazon best seller the first year it was released, helping thousands of kids learn handwriting with a unique, fun method. She is mom to 6 kids, each with differently learning abilities and struggles.
The Reading Patch was established by the creators of Mrs. Karle’s Sight and Sound Reading. Together they have been featured on the NBC media outlets and Parents Magazine online. Over the last 8 years in their online platform, Madreen and Meeghan have worked tirelessly with teachers, homeschoolers and parents looking to help children learn to read to become a trusted authority in teaching children to read and advocating early literacy skills. They often partner with other educational experts to deliver the most current information to the Reading Patch community.