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Reading Fluency is Important

Updated: 1 day ago

Reading easily makes reading more fun. People who read effortlessly, following the flow of sentences as they’d be spoken, have mastered reading fluency skills. Building reading fluency is crucial to learning because once the skill of reading is mastered, the brain is free to focus on what is being read rather than on how to read.

To build reading fluency, the basic reading skills of phonological and visual processing need to become automatic. When learning a new skill, our brain synapses are activated and fresh neuropathways are created. These new pathways become automatic through practice. Practicing a new skill creates a smooth, fluid channel for information to flow. In sum, automating phonological and visual processing of information supports reading fluency by decreasing processing time.

Learning to read requires a seamless blend of auditory, visual, language and attention skills. Any breakdown in using these skills, or in connecting the circuits between them, creates a frustrating reading experience. Fortunately, understanding the components of reading lets us identify and remediate students who struggle to master the code of reading.

There are three components of phonological processing skills that impact reading fluency:

  1. Phonological awareness is the ability to recognize the sound structure of a language. This includes sound segmentation and blending at the word, syllable, and phonemic levels.

  2. Phonological working memory is the temporary, short-term storage of phoneme information.

  3. Phonological retrieval (rapid automatic naming, or RAN) is the ability to recall the sounds, or names, associated with specific symbols.

Phonological awareness develops students’ knowledge of phonemes (the sounds of letters) and graphemes (the look of a letter or group of letters making a sound) to decode words. Phonological working memory lets students hold the sounds in their mind and work with them. Phonological retrieval enhances word-reading speed. Each phonological process advances reading skills in its own way. To specify, phonological awareness supports the language component of reading, while phonological working memory supports working with words and sentences, and phonological retrieval speeds the processing of visual information.

Good assessment tools like the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP) measure Phonological Awareness, Phonological Memory and Rapid Naming Skills. Breaking reading into these separate skills clearly identifies each students’ particular reading strengths and weaknesses. This information can then be used to create a targeted intervention plan.

Most reading instruction programs start with developing phonological awareness skills. Phonological memory and retrieval skills are often left to develop on their own. Helping students strengthen each of these skills is the best way to create enthusiastic, engaged readers. Students with a reading disability or dyslexia will especially benefit from directed interventions building the whole range of phonological skills: awareness, working memory, and retrieval. Matching the correct intervention to the individual’s needs ensures that the learner builds the abilities that will bring reading mastery.

Here are some quick quizzes that will help you understand your child’s strengths and weaknesses:

Take the Reading Quiz to learn about your student's auditory, visual and attention skills: Reading Quiz  
Take the Rapid Naming Quiz to see how fast you can name colors and objects: Rapid Naming Quiz. Remember rapid naming influences reading fluency skills.    

Build rapid naming skills with the Rapid Naming Workbook

Rapid Naming Workbook - Increase Your Reading Speed

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