Reading fluency is the ability to read with speed, accuracy and proper expression. It is a skill that allows us to follow text, picture its descriptions, and hear the words whether we read aloud or in our heads.
In order to understand what they read, children must be able to read fluently whether they are reading aloud or silently. Readers who have not yet developed fluency read slowly, word by word and their reading is quite choppy; they focus so much of their energy on decoding words that understanding of the text is lost. On the other hand, fluent readers do not need to concentrate on decoding the words. They can focus their attention on what the text means, and they can make connections among the ideas. In other words, they recognise words and comprehend at the same time.
There are several things that you can do with your child when reading with them to help improve their reading fluency:
Allowing children to re-read books, particularly in Early years and Key Stage 1, enables children to build up their fluency and their confidence in word reading.
Reading to your child. Modelling reading allows children to listen to good examples of fluent reading, children learn how a reader's voice can help written text makes sense.
Choral reading. This involves reading the words together at the same time. This could be good if a lot of decoding has been needed to read a sentence or paragraph. Going over it again together will not only help fluency and confidence, but also help comprehension.
Echo reading. An adult reads a sentence or paragraph of a text. Then the child repeats it - or echoes it back - using the same expression. Research shows that this is a very effective method to improve fluency.