top of page
  • Writer's pictureAshley

What is Fluency?

Updated: Dec 21, 2021

toes of child in grass reading book in distance

What is fluency?

Many people hear the word fluency and think speed of reading. The truth is, it is so much more than that.

A simple definition of fluency is reading with the appropriate speed, accuracy, proper expression, and with understanding. It is not only how fast someone reads, but how well they read.

Let’s take a closer look at the different parts of fluent reading.

Speed Reading

This is what comes to mind when most people think of fluency. It is simply the number of words read in a minute. Many of us grew up reading timed passages so we are familiar with these measures of reading success. While the ability to read at an appropriate tempo is important, reading fast is not the same as reading fluently. Speed serves as a gauge that helps measure reading fluency when combined with other aspects.

Accuracy with Words

Reading accuracy is how many words are read correctly. It is extremely important for students to be able to accurately decode words and recall memorized words. Decoding includes using alphabetic principles and spelling patterns. Without accuracy, it will be very hard for a student to comprehend what they are reading.


Expression during reading includes pitch, tone, volume, emphasis, and chunking phrases together. Have you ever heard someone read and it sounded like a robot: choppy, slow, and boring? That is a reader who has not mastered the art of reading with expression. Reading

with expression requires readers to comprehend what they are reading, use context clues, and interpret punctuation in order to understand how to show expression. Some scholars believe that expression is a byproduct of comprehension.


This is, of course, the goal of reading. Reading comprehension is understanding what is being read. It requires many different thinking strategies such as questioning, visualizing, making predictions, inferencing, and integrating prior knowledge. Comprehension is also what motivates students to continue reading.

boy leaning on pillows reading book

As you can see, each of these four aspects works together to help a student become a successful reader, who is (hopefully) motivated to continue reading. Each aspect of fluency should be assessed, explicitly taught, and routinely practiced in order to allow students to gain the appropriate skills and address any gaps that may arise.

How to help your child with Fluency:

  • Repeated readings - This allows students the opportunity to practice fluency skills with familiar words and patterns.

  • Echo reading - Reading one sentence at a time with proper fluency and asking your student to echo the sentence back.

  • Read aloud - This gives students a model for how fluent reading sounds. It also gives

the opportunity to model thinking strategies while reading (predicting, wondering aloud, rereading for clarification).

  • Pointing out punctuation - When a student reads punctuation incorrectly remind them of what the punctuation means and ask them to reread it correctly.

  • Discuss emotion - Discuss how characters may be feeling after a section. Then practice rereading the section with the proper emotion.

  • Discussion - Don’t be afraid to talk with students after a reading to practice summarizing strategies, asking what they wonder, and reviewing unknown vocabulary. This increases their comprehension skills in a relaxed way.

If you notice that your child is struggling to decode or figure out words, you may need the help of a professional. Talk with your child’s teacher and ask for suggestions for practicing decoding skills at home. You may also need to seek the help of a private tutor. Check out this quick read to help you with how to know if your child needs tutorin

13 views0 comments


bottom of page