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Fluent readers are able to read quickly, effortlessly, and with expression making fluency a necessary skill for comprehension and motivated reading. So how do we explicitly teach children to read fluently? On today’s post, I am going to share some tips and strategies that will help you teach your child reading fluency. 

How Do I Find My Child’s Reading Level?

Before you can begin teaching reading fluency, you will first need to determine your child’s reading level.  My favorite and probably the easiest way to determine if a text is at an appropriate reading level for a child is the Five Finger Rule.  

Have your child begin reading a page, and you will put down one finger each time he or she struggles with a word.  If your child reaches the end of the page before you get to five fingers, the text is written at a comfortable level for independent reading and practicing reading fluency. 

Here is a video I made on how to find your child’s reading level.  


Next, you will want to test your child’s reading fluency. There is a really easy way to test this, and here it is step-by-step:

  1.  Ask your child to read a grade level passage that they have never seen or read before. (DIBELS has excellent grade level reading passage assessment you can use.) 
  2.  Using a timer have your child read this text for one minute.
  3.  While reading the passage, tally the errors your child makes while reading.
  4.  Stop your child after one minute. Count the number of words read in the minute and subtract any errors made by your child. For example: if he or she read 120 words in a minute and made five errors then your child’s reading fluency rate is 115.
  5.  Use the chart below to determine if your child’s reading rate is on target.


GradeFall TargetWinter TargetSpring Target
1Not applicable2050

Johns, J. and Berglund, R. (2006). Fluency strategies and assessments. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishers.

 How do I Teach Reading Fluency?

 Now that you figured out your child’s reading level and tested your child’s reading fluency, the next step is to read a text 3 times using different strategies. Here is how I do it:

I begin by putting a marker under the first paragraph in the text and say,

“Read the first 4 sentences quietly in your mind and then look at me when you are finished.”

I then ask a question pertaining to what the child just read focusing on comprehension. 

“Where are the boys going?”

I then ask the child to read the paragraph aloud…During this time we also stop and discuss vocabulary and any words that the child is struggling with. I also use this opportunity to help the child use expression by stopping at periods, pausing at commas, and raising his or her voice at a question mark.

“Now read the paragraph aloud.”

I do this process for the rest of the text working paragraph by paragraph this way. First having the child read a paragraph quietly. Then answering a question about the paragraph. And finally going back and reading the paragraph aloud without stopping.

After that, I ask the child to read the entire text again but this time aloud and without stopping.

“Now go back and read the entire story aloud without stopping and don’t forget to use expression when reading.”

After repeated reading, the text becomes familiar and the child is reading the text quite fluently and with more expression than the first time.

Memorize those Sight Words!

 Memorizing Dolch sight words is another important step you will want to do to help improve reading fluency with your child. By memorizing common words like “the”, “said”, “what”, “you”…your child will instantly recognize these words in stories and read them fluently.

Sight words are in almost everything that we read. They are service words; they give meaning and direction, which are necessary for understanding sentences and therefore also help with reading comprehension.

For more help on teaching the Dolch Sight words, you can read my previous post:

My Favorite Sight Word Activities


Use Fluency Drills

I use fluency drills with every new concept that I teach. I put a marker across the first line and ask the student to read the words as quickly as they can. I do this with every line on the page. I use this drill 3 times over 3 days. By the third day the student is reading the words very fluently.

I am really careful though not to stress my students out. I always tell them to read as fast as they feel comfortable doing. It isn’t a race. Accuracy is way more important than speed.   


I Have a Resource for You!

Thank you for reading my post today.  You might also enjoy reading my previous posts:

How to Teach Spelling Words

How To Teach Letters and Sounds Correctly

How I Help b/d Reversals


Please don’t leave without checking out the PRIDE Reading Program.  The PRIDE Reading Program is an Orton-Gillingham curriculum that is used by teachers, tutors, and homeschooling parents worldwide with great success.

PRIDE Reading Program

Karina Richland, M.A., is the author of the PRIDE Reading Program, a multisensory Orton-Gillingham reading, writing and comprehension curriculum that is available worldwide for parents, tutors, teachers and homeschoolers of struggling readers. Karina has an extensive background in working with students of all ages and various learning modalities. She has spent many years researching learning differences and differentiated teaching practices. You can reach her by email at or visit the website at

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