5 Ways to Help Improve Reading Fluency in Students

September 12, 2021

Reading Fluency is a cornerstone of reading comprehension and decoding. Readers who are non-fluent readers often have a hard time comprehending texts on grade level. When students lack reading fluency, the students often “read like robots” or read word for word with a choppy rhythm. As reading becomes more fluent, it allows the brain to focus on understanding and comprehending the text. This also frees up students’ ability to also think beyond the text.

There are so many amazing strategies that teachers use to help their students improve their reading fluency. Here are 5 ways to help improve reading fluency in students. 

Develop Phonological Awareness

Phonological awareness is the ability for students to be able to recognize and use the different spoken parts of sentences and words. This means students can figure out words that rhyme, can break sentences into words, identify the syllables, and blend words. Having phonological awareness will help improve and help students reading fluency. 

There are a lot of different ways to help students with these skills “clapping the beat” or clapping out each syllable in a word. You can also play a game like “I spy” with your students. I spy something red that starts with /h/. Many people have written songs to help students develop phonological awareness, and YouTube is a great resource to find these. One of my favorite phonological awesomeness activities is creating a collage that has pictures of objects and things that start with a certain sound or letter or objects that rhyme. 

Color coding is also a great way to help improve phonological awareness. Having students color the consonants red and vowels blue. You can also pump it up by having students color rhyming words purple or words all ending with /ing/ green. 


Phonics is another part of helping improve reading fluency. Phonics is a way to help students read by associating sounds with letters or groups of letters. Heidi Songs has amazing phonics songs. The DVD is $20 or they have the option to watch the songs online for 99 cents a month! The songs help students learn the th, ch, and sh words. There are songs that teach students to read words with vowel digraphs or vowel teams. 

Another great resource I use for teaching and learning phonics is Spell and Find word searches. Phonics word searches are a fun and motivating activity for students. Students have the opportunity to practice short vowels, blends, and long vowels. Students write the word under the picture and find it in the word search. The second version is students write the word and then write three sentences using the words they spelled.

Spell the word and find it in the word search
Spell and Find Phonics Word Search

Repeated Reading & Word Drills 

When working on reading fluency, having students read the same passage, book, or chapter a couple of times often helps students start to feel more confident with reading. But, repeated reading is not just reading the same poem or passage multiple times. There are other ways to practice reading fluency using repeated reading. 

  • Words- Students must be able to read common words quickly to read fluently. Many times, using word drills will help students learn sight words and common words. Using word lists to help students practice their pace and accuracy when reading words helps them become more familiar with them. Heidi Songs has some amazing sight word songs as well. Actually, she has over 40 songs based on the Dolch word lists and my students love them all!
  • Phrases/sentences- You may also want to practice reading fluency using full sentences or phrases. Using flashcards, task cards, or sentence worksheets where students can practice reading the same sentence multiple times and practice daily during morning routine, reading rotations, or any downtime in the classroom.
Lighting words with short vowels, blends, and digraphs.

You can get your free copy of sight word and color word sentence practice in my FREE resource library.

Sight words and color word sentences

High Interest, Low Vocabulary Books

Find books that interest your students but are low in vocabulary to help improve reading fluency for students. Dr. Seuss books are often used for this type of technique. There are many companies that have created books that are high interest, and have low vocabulary. Some examples are Classic Starts, Keystone Books, Simple Words Books, and Perfection Learning. 

When reading these books, I suggest having students follow along with a finger, or a fun object. I have seen teachers attach googly eyes to popsicle sticks, or use party favors like little wands from a princess party or finger flashlights from a camping party. Target always has some amazing little “reading buddies” in the Bulldog Playground during back-to-school time as well! 

Stress Free Environment 

Students need to know your classroom is a place where they can make mistakes, a place where they are going to grow and work on their reading fluency. You want students to know you are there to help them and you want them to grow as readers. If students feel comfortable and do not feel judged or stressed, create a learning environment that welcomes all learners and readers.

There are so many different ways to improve fluency and to help students become stronger readers. It is always important to make sure students feel comfortable and know you are there to help guide them in their reading adventure. Don’t forget to check out my TPT store. I am always adding new resources to help with fluency, comprehension, and other reading-related skills! 


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