Tips for Helping Students Improve Reading Fluency and Flow

Learn some of the tips that Joanne Kaminski, The Skyping Reading Tutor, uses to help students bridge the gap between phonics and reading comprehension. Kaminski offers perfect tips for students that have grasped the fundamentals of phonics and are working on improving reading fluency.

The Flow of Reading

By Guest Writer, Joanne Kaminski

Improve student fluency

Have you ever heard someone who is so dynamic in reading that all you want to do is keep listening to him/her? This is the flow of reading. When you hear it you know that this is exactly what it should sound like when someone is reading. The expression is excellent, pacing is perfect, and the accuracy is awesome. A great example of this can be found at Authors read the best books on this site and are the best models of fluent reading.

Now imagine this scenario. A child is reading word by word in a monotone fashion and it sounds like it actually hurts to get the next word out. If your heart is like mine, you feel really bad for this child. All you want to do is make reading easier for them.  Well, thank goodness there is a solution.

The solution is fluency instruction. Fluency is the effortless reading of words accurately, with the proper rate and expression. Fluency instruction has been known to be a bridge between phonics and comprehension. It is a transition stage from merely reading words to actually understanding what is being read. 

Good fluency instruction must include top notch models of reading. Storyline online is a perfect source for that. Other sources include audio books and YouTube. There are lots of dynamic readers just pouring out their love for reading.

Sight word instruction is critical in fluency instruction. Using a source like Fry’s high frequency word list is very helpful in creating automatic readers. However, you want to make sure that you move beyond just single words and move into phrases and then short passages so that reading is not limited to short choppy reading. 

A new strategy that was developed by Timothy Rasinski combines the use of singing and reading with a Karaoke machine. When students are singing they are forced to have their voices keep up at a certain rate. A group of students at Hillside elementary were able to raise their reading scores a whole year with just 3 months of after school instruction in Karaoke club once a week.

Readers that struggle with using expression, need to see how fluent readers have their voice go up and down. One way to do this is to have two highlighters. One highlighter shows where voices go up and the other shows where a voice goes. Then the student and the teacher can start to notice together where in sentences voices go up and down. If you interested in other methods to help a child become a fluent reader, then you will want to check out:

Not all reading strategies are right for all kids. Become familiar with the myriad of ways listed in this article to increase a student’s confidence level and bridge the gap between phonics and comprehension. Every child can become a fluent reader, he/she just needs the right instruction.

List of Reading Strategies ›

About the Author

Joanne Kaminski is a Reading Specialist that has created her own online reading tutoring company called Bright IDEA Tutoring. She has worked with struggling readers in the school system for over 10 years and now volunteers her time by reading books to kids in classroom via Skype. Visit her site at: