Reading Skills And Strategies – Fluency and Expression
Like any profession, teachers have their very own language. In fact, even as a teacher if you have been out of the game even for a short while it can seem that new words and acronyms pop up every day in the world of education.
As a parent, I can only imagine that this might seem quite daunting. I believe it is important to educate parents on the language of education to make the partnership between home and school stronger.
I am going to introduce two new reading strategy terms to you. The first is Expression and the second is Fluency. When a child is being assessed and taught to read, these are two important aspects that a teacher will look for.
What is Expression?
Expression is a child’s ability to read a story with rhythm, volume, tone and pitch. I guess the best way to explain reading with expression is that a child is changing their voice when reading a text out loud.
A child reading with expression indicates a number of things about their reading ability:
- An interest in the text.
- An understanding of the author’s purpose (e.g. using rhythm in a poem).
- The ability to read ahead and know what is coming in the story (e.g. when the sentence says ‘The Giant is coming” shouted Jack and the reader changes the volume of their voice when reading aloud).
- An indicator that the same child would be reading (in their head) with expression when reading independently.
- An understanding of grammar (e.g. change of pitch for a question mark).
What is Fluency?
Fluency is the ability to read a text accurately and quickly. Essentially, fluency and expression work hand in hand. I guess the best way to explain fluency is that a child reads with pace instead of sounding like a robot.
A child reading with fluency indicates a number of things about their reading ability:
- A good comprehension of the text.
- An ability to recognise a wide range of words and vocabulary (e.g. not needing to hesitate to sound out words).
- Great sight word recognition.
- An indicator that the same child would be reading (in their head) with fluency when reading independently.
- An enjoyment for reading.
- An understanding of grammar (e.g. pausing for commas, stopping for full stops).
How Can You Help at Home?
So what can you do at home to help your child improve their reading expression and fluency?
There are so many ideas but I believe the most significant one is to model it. Read with expression and fluency when you read the fave bedtime story and they will start to model what you do with their favourite books. I have seen my six-year-old nephew read a story to his little brother in the exact same way that his grandmother has read the book to him. It is the cutest thing and the best way for them to learn.
You can also:
- Ensure the books they are reading are interesting to them, for some great recommendations for reading resources click here
- Work on their sight word recognition.
- Put things in place if your child is reluctant about reading (for tips on reluctant readers check our post out here).
- Borrow audiobooks and books on CD from the library or online so they can hear how others read with expression and fluency. I have recently come across this great resource called Storybox that is incredible for this very thing.
- Re-read the same book and allow your child to re-read the same book to you if they want to. I know it can seem tedious but it is very helpful for fluency and reading confidence.