Improve Reading Fluency, Reduce Bossiness

Improving Reading Fluency

Q: What is fluency? My daughter is in eighth grade and her whole class was just tested. The results came home that she was not a fluent reader. How can this be improved?

A: Reading fluency is the ability to read material quickly and accurately. Children who are fluent readers can focus their attention on understanding what they are reading because they do not have to concentrate on recognizing individual words. The reverse is true for less fluent readers. If your daughter is able to improve her fluency, she will improve her comprehension at the same time.

Until recently, fluency was a neglected reading skill. Now, more and more attention is being focused on it in the classroom. The best way to improve fluency is for students to read aloud, not silently. Unless your daughter is currently in a reading class, she is not likely to get much help at school to increase her fluency.

Fortunately, you can help your daughter improve her fluency. Read a short bit of text to her. This gives her a model for how the passage should sound. Then have her read it aloud to you. Have her reread the passage until she can do so quite fluently. Reading it three or four times is usually sufficient. You can also read a passage to your daughter and then read it aloud together three to five times. This doesn’t have to be done on the same day.

Your daughter will not become a fluent reader overnight. However, she definitely will become a more fluent reader if you and she repeatedly read orally. These same techniques can be used to help beginning readers become more fluent readers. There are more techniques to help struggling readers at in Resources under “Skill Builders.”

Helping a Bossy First-Grader

Q: My daughter is the youngest in her first-grade class. She is spending all her time trying to get the other girls to like her. She is coming off as being bossy, and the other girls don’t like that. What can I do to help her adjust?

A: First, how does your daughter behave with family members and neighborhood children? Do you see a similar pattern of bossy behavior? One effective way to change it is by play acting different situations so she knows how to act appropriately.

Explain to your daughter that when she asks for things in a demanding way, the other girls will not want to play with her. Help her to learn how to rephrase what she wants in a nicer tone such as, “May I play with you?” She needs to learn to ask and not demand. When she exhibits demanding behavior at home, ask her to rephrase what she wants. Also explain to her that sometimes other children will not respond favorably to her nice requests.

Parents can send questions to or ask them on the columnists’ Web site at

Categories: Early Education, Education, Sk Education