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The basics of beginning reading: Fluency

Fluency is one of the four essential reading skills. Find out if your kindergartner or first grader is on track.

By GreatSchools Staff

Fluency describes the flow and ease of a child's reading style. Reading fluency has been called the bridge between decoding and comprehension, since decoding skills are necessary to master reading fluency and in turn fluency is essential for reading comprehension. A child with weak decoding skills will read haltingly, and her poor fluency will inhibit reading comprehension. A child with strong fluency skills reads smoothly and naturally, in a voice similar to her speaking voice, with appropriate speed and expression.

A beginning reader (K – 1) with good fluency skills can:

  • Easily name and recognize all the letters in the alphabet
  • Recognize commonly used sight words with ease and speed
  • Read simple text with ease and understanding
  • With practice, read in a natural, conversational voice, using phrasing and expression
  • Self-correct reading mistakes using clues in the text and illustrations
  • By the end of first grade, read grade-level text with purpose and understanding

Other necessary reading skills:

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