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Reading - the final mile

(34 Posts)
EdgeOfNowhere Sun 09-Mar-14 08:19:32

Is there any way to teach a child to be a fluent reader?

I mean once they know how to read but still read slowly, to reading fluently and effortlessly?

School say it just takes practice. But I think that's an easy / lazy thing for them to say. Not appropriate to say to a Y5 / Y6 child who has been practicing daily for 5 or 6 years.

Clearly not all kids make the leap to fluent readers.

If all it took was practice all pupils would leave the school fluent readers. All school would have to do is listen to the kids read.

mrz Sun 09-Mar-14 08:25:31

It is largely down to practice and modelling how fluent readers sound (continue reading to them long after they can read themself). Make sure they are aware of how print and punctuation works.

EdgeOfNowhere Sun 09-Mar-14 08:37:22

No other subject is taught through practice (besides rote learning)

At what point do you think there must a more effective way?

If all it takes is practice, why do so many children leave primary not reading well?

mrz Sun 09-Mar-14 09:01:40

all subjects are taught by practice

how do sports people become more proficient?
how do artists & musicians perfect their skills and techniques?
how do writers hone their craft?
in maths we practice skills and concepts day after day

Why do some children leave primary not reading well? I could say they have been taught badly
in truth the test at the end of primary only tests one aspect of reading - comprehension so perhaps a better question would be why do some children leave primary with poor comprehension skills

spanieleyes Sun 09-Mar-14 09:06:23

There isn't a more effective way. Read the sentence, listen to the sentence read fluently, read the sentence again. Read through texts, read aloud, read in your head but just read!
The problem comes when parents ( and teachers too!) stop reading with children because "they can read". That's actually when adult involvement becomes even more important for modelling fluency.
And I'm not sure why you think many children leave primary being unable to read fluently, the only ones in my class who still struggle are the few with specific difficulties, the rest are fluent readers.

CecilyP Sun 09-Mar-14 09:10:18

Not all children get a lot of practice reading to an adult, or reading out loud, once they have mastered the basics - I know I didn't - so that could be the answer to your final question. Are you asking about your own children that you know have had a lot of practice? I think it might be more a personality thing where some can read in a way to entertain others while others would prefer to get on with a story by reading silently. Beyond a certain level, reading out loud isn't reading - it's acting!

lljkk Sun 09-Mar-14 09:17:15

practice for sure, more & more.
The ones who leave primary not reading well only learnt slowly & late or don't read much at home! I haven't listened to 6yo DS read for 3 days, I keep asking & he keeps resisting (can lead the horse to water but can't make it drink). Some parents would give up trying.

For many Can be other underlying issues (undiagnosed), too.

EdgeOfNowhere Sun 09-Mar-14 09:18:21

If school genuinely believed it just took practice, they'd make sure every child who wasn't reading well read daily at school. They don't do that because they don't really believe practice helps. It's just a line they trot out to turn the problem onto the parents.

I'm talking about my child who I know has had lots of practice and the many, many children with specific difficulties who don't learn to read fluently.

If practice was the answer, then it would work for children with or without specific difficulties.

The reading SATs paper doesn't distinguish between children who can't read, and children who can read but can't do higher order comprehension skills. So you have no idea how many level 3s and 4s are fluent readers and how many aren't

CecilyP Sun 09-Mar-14 09:26:52

Edge, they might still believe it helped but simply don't have the level of staffing that would enable them to listen to many children daily. So parents (as they generally have fewer children) can provide a lot of extra practice. I am not sure what you are asking though - is the problem not being able to read very well, or reading slowly and without expression, or is it not understanding what is read?

MilkRunningOutAgain Sun 09-Mar-14 09:30:35

I find it difficult. DS dislikes reading and doesn't read for pleasure. Once he got to KS2 there was very little reading at all at school, and he refused to read to me in the evenings. The school's policy is for the kids to read every day but, in reality, it's once a week and the kids just chat. Things are improving this year, the teacher sets reading homework and after I explained my worries about him not being fluent, has specified to DS that he has to read to me aloud twice a week. DS likes to follow rules and always does his homework, so we are now practising and heigh presto, he's far more fluent.

EdgeOfNowhere Sun 09-Mar-14 09:35:01

is the problem not being able to read very well, or reading slowly and without expression - What's the difference?

cazzybabs Sun 09-Mar-14 09:43:19

Some children have a reason why they find reading harder to pick up - a SLD

Some children are disadvantaged because they come from a home where literacy is not valued as highly as other things - ie they are never read to, never see a respected elder reading etc

Some children are disadvantaged because they entered school as poor English speakers (not just people who speak English as an additional language)

Some children are disadvantaged as they had poor initial phonics teaching.

Can all these be overcome - I think so but it takes time. And yes it is practise but much research suggests for children to be effective learners they need to be relaxed, find it fun and be engaged... if you perceive yourself as someone who is "thick" or "stupid" because you can't read as well as your peers then I am not surprised children at this age find it very hard to improve.

cazzybabs Sun 09-Mar-14 09:44:59

EdgeOfNowhere - if schools heard children read everyday there would no time for anything else. To actually hear a child read properly needs 5-10 minutes everyday

mrz Sun 09-Mar-14 09:46:06

A huge difference

Some children can read the words accurately with good understanding but sound very stilted when reading aloud, some can read the words but have difficulty with understanding and others struggle to read the words

cazzybabs Sun 09-Mar-14 09:52:36

which is why guided reading is fab

mrz Sun 09-Mar-14 10:16:47

We don't do guided reading

spanieleyes Sun 09-Mar-14 10:20:07

So you have no idea how many level 3s and 4s are fluent readers and how many aren't
I know how many of MY level 3 and 4 readers are fluent readers because I hear them read every week. The ones who are not fluent readers are either not level 3 readers-because of their lack of comprehension skills or are level 3/4 readers but have specific difficulties-two autistic children who do not read (or indeed speak) with expression.

MilkRunningOutAgain Sun 09-Mar-14 10:56:58

My DS's comprehension is great, and he can read quickly to himself. But reading aloud is slow and stilted and he just won't express emotion. It's like listening to a struggling yr 1 , and he's a yr 6!

CecilyP Sun 09-Mar-14 10:59:03

is the problem not being able to read very well, or reading slowly and without expression - What's the difference?

What I meant was:

Not read very well - lots of new words even in age appropriate material, reading inaccurate
Slow and without expression - accurate but not very entertaining for the listener

EdgeOfNowhere Sun 09-Mar-14 11:18:40

Reading slow and inaccurate in age appropriate material. But able to read better when prompted.

EdgeOfNowhere Sun 09-Mar-14 11:30:20

OK, let me put this another way.

How many children have you taught who weren't fluent readers at the beginning of Y5, and became fluent readers by practicing reading during Y5 (or Y6)?

Most children who learn to read by reading, learn lower down the school. Children who have reached Y5 with poor reading skills don't learn to read by reading.

tiredbutnotweary Sun 09-Mar-14 11:49:40

If you are talking about how a child sounds reading out loud, then reading the same book more than once can be an opportunity to work on fluency specifically. In fact in PM bench mark (a toolkit some schools use to identify the appropriate book band for a child), fluency (being the speed of word reading) is only tested once the child has already read the book once (during the first reading the teacher will look at accuracy and comprehension).

I was amazed at the difference the other day when DD decided she wanted to read her school book again. It's a story about a character getting onto his school's football team, so I have no idea why she loved it so much, but it really captured her imagination. It has 6 chapters, not that long, but it's not like she could have memorized the whole thing. However her second reading was markedly different - like the difference between driving in 3rd and 4th gear.

So I would suggest finding some fairly easy, well loved, not too long books, and get your DC to re-read those so that they can get the feel of sounding fluent (especially if you model any speech etc. where work is required for the expression). Poetry can be useful for this too, as you can find short poems which have specific emotional themes too - from sad to silly. Finally saying "slow and smooth" can also be helpful as rushing and then stumbling sounds much less fluent.

I'm not sure if these are the sort of suggestions you were hoping for, however if the school aren't helping then the more you do at home the better.

tiredbutnotweary Sun 09-Mar-14 11:59:13

Sorry as I was writing while you posted your next two posts - if reading fluency is improved by prompting then I think my suggestions are more likely to help.

You should also, as a matter of course, be getting eyes checked - not just at a local optician but in addition one which can check for convergence and other vision problems that are not checked for at a standard eye test (search MN there are lots of threads about this).

Oh and I do agree with your general point, which I think (correct me if I'm wrong) is how will doing the same thing the same way help improve a skill. It won't! Something needs to change, and that is possibly reading easier books for a while to work very specifically on fluency and expression, sorting out vision problems, both, or indeed any other suggestions that other posters may have.

Out of interest is your DC a free reader (i.e. chooses their own home books or general school books) or are they still reading scheme books (which in some schools will go to band 16/18 and are designed for up to at least year 6)?

mrz Sun 09-Mar-14 12:01:22

"How many children have you taught who weren't fluent readers at the beginning of Y5, and became fluent readers by practicing reading during Y5 (or Y6)?" Every single one

mrz Sun 09-Mar-14 12:02:55

but if the problem is that the child can't read accurately then they need to be assessed to find out why

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