How to Help Struggling Readers Improve Fluency

Fluency is the ability to accurately read text with the right speed, tonal variations, and expressions. Reading fluently helps the reader understand the text easily. But struggling readers read slowly, pause often to decode words, and rarely understand what they read. Without fluency, these readers cannot achieve reading comprehension, which is detrimental to their academic life.

So, how do you help struggling readers improve fluency? You focus on improving their reading speed and expression. Once you achieve results, help them grow their decoding skills and improve fluency. Let’s see how you can help your struggling students improve fluency.

  1. Be a Role Model

Struggling readers can improve their fluency by listening to fluent reading. The more they listen to tone changes, speed variations, and inflections, the easier it becomes to mimic—and eventually adopt—fluent reading. Have expressive read-aloud sessions and start with texts your students are familiar with. Also, you can pair up fluent readers with struggling readers and have the fluent readers read expressively.

  1. Teach Phrasing

Phrasing is grouping text into meaningful chunks. It helps the reader know when to pause, increase the pace, or change the tone for smooth reading and easy comprehension. Many struggling readers read one word at a time, which affects their fluency. You can teach them phrasing by using a pencil to mark phrases in sentences. Have them practice until they can naturally phrase sentences in their brains as they read.

  1. Encourage Individual Read-Aloud Sessions

Individual read-aloud sessions are not only great for practice but also help readers gain more confidence. To start, be the audience for your struggling readers in their read-aloud sessions. Read a paragraph and have them repeat the exact paragraph to you. Encourage them to mimic your reading style and fluency. You can then pair them with fluent readers in partner reading sessions. Encourage the students to read aloud regularly to other people, like their siblings or parents.

  1. Offer Encouragement and Support

Struggling readers can quickly lose confidence and develop low esteem. They need encouragement and support to improve and become confident. Join hands with parents and encourage the students to put in the effort even as you implement intervention measures. Regularly compliment the learners on their other strengths to boost their confidence and increase their motivation to improve. If you notice that a specific student needs more attention, you can request their parents to hire a private tutor to complement your efforts. They can use search terms like “the best reading tutors near me” to find available tutors near their locality. Private tutors could be a game-changer as they offer personalized help based on a learner’s needs.

  1. Introduce Multisensory Activities

Multisensory activities are a great way to improve memory retention and add fun to learning. They help the learner improve their ability to recognize letters, ultimately improving scanning speed. Start by encouraging students to use their fingers as they read. Also, you can play word-building games with cut-out letters. You can also use audiobooks or programs with read-aloud features like Microsoft Word. The learner will read along and follow as the narrator reads out and highlights the words.

Be Patient, They’ll Get There

Helping a struggling reader improve fluency takes time and lots of practice. Do as much as you can to help them improve their skills while encouraging and supporting their efforts. With your help and training, they will become fluent.