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How Phonics Knowledge Helps with Reading Fluency

Phonics knowledge plays a HUGE role in students' reading fluency.

In this post, we'll examine some different components of reading fluency, and how phonics instruction supports students' growth in these areas.

Key Components of Reading Fluency

First and foremost, fluency is not just reading speed! Fluency also involves:

  • Accuracy*
  • Being able to recognize words automatically*
  • Being able to decode new words*
  • Self-correcting errors*
  • Rhythm and phrasing
  • Attention to punctuation
  • Smoothness
  • Reading expression

Take another look at the items with an asterisk (*). All of those components of fluency involve phonics knowledge!

For a child to read fluently, they must be able to decode quickly and accurately, and recognize many words by sight. Phonics instruction facilitates all of that.

Now look at the items without an asterisk. Phonics knowledge indirectly impacts these, too!

Here's why: if a child is devoting lots of time and mental attention to figure out the words of a text, it's going to be much harder for them to read in smooth phrases, pause appropriately and change expression for punctuation marks, and read smoothly and with expression. Their focus is entirely devoted to just figuring out "what the words say."

On the other hand, if a reader can decode quickly and easily, they have more attention freed up to read smoothly, with expression, etc.

Improving Students' Reading Fluency

High-quality phonics instruction is a must for improving students' reading fluency.

We can also help students improve their reading fluency by having them reread texts several times.

Research indicates that when a child rereads a text several times, they become better at reading that particular text - but the gains also apply to other texts they'll read in the future.

Reading / performing poetry and Reader's Theatre can make rereading practice fun!

For more fluency activity ideas, check out this video:

Getting Phonics and High Frequency Word Instruction In Place

To learn more about how to teach phonics effectively so your students grow in their fluency and overall reading abilities, check out our free webinar at this link. In the webinar, you'll learn exactly what phonics routines to cover each week with your students - plus how they can be differentiated.

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