Sunday, October 18, 2015

What comes first?

What came first, the chicken or the egg? Most of us learned this riddle in elementary school. No matter how many ways you look at it, you can equally justify both answers. The whole point is, no one really knows, but you can't go wrong with either answer.

Fluency and comprehension work the same way.

Fluency is reading with appropriate speed, accuracy and expression. When children learn to read, they read one word at a time usually pausing to figure out unknown words or waiting for confirmation that they said the right word.

We all have experienced listening to someone who is not a fluent reader. Usually. It. Sounds. Like. A. Robot. We also refer to this as word calling. Sometimes, the reader will ignore punctuation, or mispronounce words without stopping to correct themselves or seek assistance.

Fluency is a signal that someone is comprehending what she reads, but fluency is also necessary for comprehension.

I know that may not make sense at first, but lets think about the person who is reading robotically. He is not reading far enough in a phrase to see what is happening to make the words sound like what we would consider natural.

At the same time, have you ever tried to comprehend while you are listening to someone who word calls? By the time she gets to the end of the sentence, you have likely forgotten the beginning.

So what can you do to help build fluency?

  • One of the most important parts of reading to children is that they hear what a reading voice sounds like. They hear the expression you put into your words. They watch for and learn punctuation.
  • Have your child reread what you read aloud, and  have him try to sound like you did.
  • Make sure your child has a healthy dose of what you might consider easy books. When she doesn't have to struggle with unknown words, she can focus more on punctuation and reading with expression.
  • Encourage your child to reread familiar books. Every time we read a book, we get something new out of it. The more familiar we are with the text, the easier it is to read fluently
So, what comes first, fluency or comprehension? 

Answer: They develop at the same time with practice. You have to practice both to see gains in reading.

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