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As parents, we often hear from classroom teachers that our kids struggle with reading. However, not everyone knows how to help in reading comprehension. More specifically, many parents are unaware of the stages of reading development.
The website Readingrockets.org defines Fluency as the ability to read with speed, accuracy, and proper expression. To understand what they read, children must be able to read fluently whether they are reading aloud or silently.
For students to understand what they read or to be understood fluency must happen at an appropriate rate. Reading too fast or too slow impacts what a student reads out loud or silently. In my humble opinion, fluency is one of the most important stages of reading development.
As the mother of a child that struggled with reading comprehension, I worried deeply about my child’s reading development. I remember feeling desperate and impotent watching him struggle with reading comprehension. In 4th grade obtaining letter grades meant that he was coming home with low test scores especially for English language arts.
My concern as a mother and as an educator was real. As a result, I began to use a number of resources to help improve my son’s reading abilities. Below are some resources and actions I took to try to help with reading comprehension. Some of these were not easy to stick to because everything requires commitment and determination. To try to change things up we tried different tools.
Research continuously states that students learn to read by reading. When I first noticed my son was struggling we began practicing reading out loud every night. We used a reading intervention program called STARS which gave us one-page practice items that we did together each night. The program focuses on identifying the main idea of a paragraph. My favorite part of the program is how quickly and to the point it was.
As we continued to practice reading at home, I also worried about whether my son had academic needs that I was not going to be able to target on my own. I didn’t want to wait any longer to figure out whether he needed additional help that I was not able to provide. So, one morning I wrote to his school and requested an educational evaluation.
Within 30 days or so the results of the evaluation were discussed with me during a meeting where the school psychologist shared very good information about his academic progress. The evaluation results were stunning. The results confirmed that although he was struggling with reading comprehension there was no need to identify or service him in special education.
To ensure that I was not going to harm or negatively impact what my son was learning in school I worked closely with his classroom teacher. We emailed regularly, and she shared with me in class assessment results. Knowing the results gave me an idea of whether we were making progress. By the middle of the school year, my son was also sharing test results and his progress in school.
Online Reading Programs
When I noticed that my son would get tired of doing the same things over and over I began to switch things up a bit. I used several online programs that I thought would be helpful to keep switching things up.
As I wrote this post, I realized how much we have done to help improve my son’s reading fluency and comprehension. I kept having to go back to add other things we had done over the last few years. As of today, we are still working on his reading but I am happy to share that his reading has improved tremendously. He now talks about what he reads and learns more often and enjoys being able to understand and participate more in class.
Please share your stories. What other strategies or programs have you used to help with fluency or reading comprehension?