Learning to read is complex — there are so many skills your child is working on at once! But don’t get sidetracked by the complexity of the journey. Truly the best thing you can do for your child as they learn to read is to help them learn to love to read. Each of these four games reinforces fluency, an element of reading skills that has to do with learning to read smoothly and at an even pace. You can read more about fluency for kindergartners and first graders or for second and third graders. Or you can watch videos of what it looks like to read with fluency in kindergarten, first grade, second grade, and third grade.

For now, give these reading games a try and remember to keep it fun. If any of these games isn’t fun, skip it and try a different one!

My pile, your pile

We’ve all used flash cards for math, why not reading? Familiarity with sight words is an important component of fluency. Your child should be able to instantly recognize these words, without having to sound them out.

What you’ll need:

  • Index cards
  • Markers
  • List of sight words (see Dolch sight words: kindergarten or first grade)

What to do:

Make 5 to 10 cards with sight words at your child’s grade level (for example all, that, she, now). Go through the pile and if your child knows a word, it goes into his pile, if he doesn’t know the word or has to struggle, it goes in your pile. When you’ve gone through your deck, do it over again and see if your child can add to his pile. Keep playing until all the words are in your child’s pile. To keep the game fresh and add challenges as your child’s fluency increases, keep adding new words to the stack, and discarding words your child knows.

 

Echo game

Improve your child’s fluency with this mimicry game.

What you’ll need:

  • Book at your child’s grade level

What to do:

Read a sentence aloud using appropriate expression and pausing. Then, have your child mimic you, reading the same sentence and using the same expression and pauses. Repeat the game every few paragraphs as you read through the book.

All together now

Read in unison to help your child become a fluent reader.

What you’ll need:

  • A book your child is familiar with reading

What to do:

Read a page or passage together in unison. You may have to slow your reading down a little to keep pace, but don’t slow down too much. Encourage your child to copy your pace and expression. And, yes, funny faces are allowed.

 

Practice, practice, practice!

Repetition is the key to fluency.

What you’ll need:

  • A book your child is familiar with reading

What to do:

Encourage your child to reread a favorite (short) book until she can read it smoothly and easily. This will build her confidence along with her fluency. For variety (and to give yourself a break) encourage her to read the book to pets, stuffed animals, visiting friends, and relatives.