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Syndicated column from The Parent Institute

[JAN. 4, 2007]  Q: My son is in third grade. He enjoys school and makes good grades. The problem is reading. His teacher tells me that his comprehension is good, but he needs to improve his fluency. When I listen to him read, he seems to "read" words that are not there. What can I do to help him?

A: While fluency -- the ability to read smoothly and clearly -- may come naturally to some children, fluency can also be cultivated through patience and practice. You can help your son. One of the best strategies is to provide him with plenty of opportunities to read and reread aloud. Try the following tips:

  • Read stories together. Model fluency by reading aloud with expression. Point to the words as you do this. Point out pauses in a sentence. Take turns.

  • Encourage him to read and reread easy books aloud so that words will become more familiar.

  • Have him read fun stories with rhyming words. These show the connection between spelling and pronunciation.

  • Offer guidance, but don't correct words immediately. Ask if the word made sense in the passage. Then have him look at it again.

  • Have him slow down a little. He may be adding words because he anticipates what is coming.

  • Have him read aloud to a younger sibling or neighbor.

  • Make reading a part of everyday life. If you're cooking dinner, ask your son to read you a recipe. If you're busy folding laundry, suggest that he read you a favorite story while you finish.

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  • Put books before movies. Lots of popular children's stories have made the leap to the big screen. If your youngster is desperate to see one, read the book aloud together first.

You have a bright son and can be proud that he makes good grades. Don't worry too much about his fluency. Even very skilled readers may trip over unfamiliar text, such as a technical manual or medical journal. Continue to encourage reading. Focus on his achievements, not his weaknesses. This will build his confidence.

For more information about helping children learn or to submit your own question, go to All questions will receive a prompt answer by e-mail. Copyright 2006, The Parent Institute.

[The Parent Institute]

For more information about helping children learn, go to To submit your own question, use the form at
. All questions will receive a prompt answer by e-mail.

Copyright 2006, The Parent Institute

"Ask the Learning Advisor -- Ideas for Raising Successful Children" is a free, syndicated column from the Parent Institute.

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