Reading Help

Improve Reading Fluency at Home (Our Proven System)

Is your child missing or guessing words you thought they had mastered? Or maybe they are taken long pauses between words and reading really slow. So, was my 3rd grader before I researched and found a way to improve her reading fluency at home.

What does it take to improve reading fluency skills you ask? A child with good reading fluency is able to read sentences and paragraph without constant pauses and hesitations. If your child is constantly guessing words or getting stuck reading grade level content, chances are they are having problems with their fluency. You can improve reading fluency through a phonics based reading program.

A phonics based reading program seems too easy to be the answer to your problems. As the mother of a struggling reader, I have been amazed at how much re-teaching her to read using phonics beyond the basics has helped to improve her reading. Keep reading to learn how you can do the same.

Causes of Poor Reading Fluency

Reading fluency revolves around three skills: accuracy, speed, and rhythm. A fluent reader is able to read grade level passages without much hesitation, in the rhythm of normal reading, and at average speed. Let’s dive a little more into why your reader may be having issues with these skills.

My Child Reads Slow

Let’s first talk about what happens when we read. When anyone reads, they use their eyes to view words and word fragments (phonograms and morphemes) and that visual information is process back to the brain to pull from memory to say the sounds or words. A signal is then sent to the mouth to verbalize the information that has been processed.

These processes require good auditory, visual, processing speed, and memory functioning. Developmental issues within any of these functions can slow your reader down. It is important to rule out processing disorders in children who have been struggling to read (especially with reading help). When the traditional reading interventions aren’t working dig deeper, find out if there is a gap. These are often treatable with small aids.

Another reason that your child may be reading slow is because they lack confidence. They know their reading is poor and they are constantly thinking about each word to make sure they are not making mistakes. To this I say we have to give them the tools and watch the lack of confidence we give them around our words and reactions to their mistakes. In the reading intervention strategies, I will dive into the tools kids need to build confidence and be fluent readers.

My Child Guesses Words and Misses Words I Thought They Knew

This guessing words is a common issue among less fluent readers. This is often seen in readers who have learned to read through a heavy use of sightwords versus phonic based reading strategies. The best way to describe the science behind this is learning words from sightwords promotes guessing and the body processing systems learn sightwords as though they are images.

Think of it this way a picture of a hand is identified no matter which way it is turned, but words can only be said right if they are spelled in the same direction. So, mistakes happen like confusing the word “was” for “saw.” They child is pulling from memory a image versus a word that is written left to right. This is why teaching kids to decode words is very important.

I want to share a short story with you about my daughter’s reading struggles. Her school was stumpped because her comprehension was high. So, she didn’t fit the mold of a struggling reader. Her issues started to shine through really bright as she moved into 3rd grade. Because she had a large vocabulary pool and high comprehension she was working really hard to guess words she didn’t know based on their appearance (the image). But as we know, the older you get the more words you are expected to read. So, when she saw a long word on the page of a space passage that started with the letter “a” she used her vocabulary and context clues to guess it was astronaut, but now more words were being expected and the word was aerospace.

Many readers who are struggling with inaccuracy and guessing words are working really hard to read. They are using content clues and memory to figure out words we show disappointment when they miss. The major problem is they don’t have the decoding tools to figure the words out other wise. They are looking at the word hoping it will come to them as they’ve been taught through sightword memorization and when it doesn’t they try to use content clues which don’t always work. At some point there is too much to remember and then there are no tools to fall back on.

My Child Doesn’t Read with Rhythm

When we read it’s almost like a song. It has beat and rhythm. Our kids learn to read with rhythm through hearing. This is why it is important to frequently read to them. They learn through experiences. Having your child read daily is also very helpful, but before they can read their first word it is helpful to have a reference of how reading should sound.

There are a lot of options here. You can read yourself, go to story times at the library, or listen to audiobooks. The most important thing to remember is that until your child is a fluent reader they should hear fluent reading daily.

Reading Intervention Strategies

So, I took a little time to talk about the problem. Let’s talk about strategies we can use to create fluent readers. The first thing I want to emphasize is to read daily. This may be the kid listening or practicing but you must read daily. Here are some other strategies.


Phonograms are letters that make sound. For instance the letter makes 3 different sounds. If your kid knows the sounds that “a” make when they are sounding out a word they will have the tools to figure out a word they have never seen. So the first step is understanding that a letter or group of letters work together to make specific sound(s).

When you are looking for phonograms you should know there are many. Focus first on phonograms of A -Z, then multi-letter phonograms (diagraphs, trigraphs, etc), consonant blends, and morphemes.


Decoding is done by looking at a word and breaking it up into identifiable phonograms or morpheme. A morpheme is a group of letters that work together to form a sound and the group of letters have a meaning. For instance, the morpheme quart means four and when we see quart in a word we don’t have to sound out each letter we just say it as a unit of sound.

Visual phonics is really helpful when decoding words. Visual phonics is when we give kids a cheat to knowing what sound a phonogram is making in a word. For instance, placing an apple over letter a in a word to remind the child that this a is making it’s short sound. After using these visual cues kids will be conditioned to how sounds work in words.

Another aspect of decoding is understanding spelling rules. One in particular is silent E. There are a lot of spelling rules that kids can learn to help them decode words.

Rhyming is very important to reading. It helps kids see how English is spoken and points out grouped sound within various words.


You may have heard that practice makes perfect. It does! A struggling reader needs practice, patience, and exposure. They need to hear fluent reading, practice reading (more tips about this in the next section), practice blending and segmenting words. Copy work and dictation is helpful to struggling readers as well.

Building Confident Readers (Techniques)

I want to say that when I brought my daughter home. I did a lot of research. Initially, I didn’t buy a program and we saw a lot of improvement. I did end up buying a reading/language arts program because I wanted to have something that took the guess work out of what we would be doing every lesson. I wanted something that was a simple pick up and go. What I found was that my outline of what I needed to do to get her to being a fluent reader was on point. It is the reason that I’m creating my own Learn to Read and Struggling Reader program.

Ok, here are some ways to build confidence among your readers:

  • During their leisure reading time allow them to read books below their reading level. This will enforce the idea that reading is fun and stop some of the reluctance of reading.
  • Do pre-reading. When reading a new passage have your student skim through and find words they don’t know. Have your student markup the words (phonetically). Talk about the meaning of the words.
  • Have your kid read to you occasionally while you are not next to them. Be within listening distance occupied. This worked so much for us. I would have my daughter reading at the table while I did dishes or organized. I listen to make sure what she was saying made sense but I didn’t interrupt.

Phonograms to Know

These are the phonograms I used when my daughter first came home. The only difference in it from the program I later purchased was the order.

First Group of Sounds


Second Group of Phonograms


Third Group of Phonograms


Fourth Group of Phonograms


Blends and Morphemes

Your child should see these blends and morphemes and not attempt to sound them out they should just know the sound. To keep the brain from processing them as a image you can have your child say the letters before the sound, practice writing it then saying the sound, and visualize the letters floating in the air then saying the sound.




The list of morphemes is very long but here is a starting point. Do not worry about studing the meaning of the morpheme when you are working with a struggling reader. Work on the sound and later when they are fluent you can go back and work on the vocabulary side. I found in order to cover a lot of morphemes and phonograms in a short time it was overload to add in the vocabulary aspect.


Accomplished Kids has a Learn to Read and Struggling Reader online program that is coming out this fall. It will be affordable, as fun as we can make it, and condense as it can be successful. If you are interested, please follow our Facebook page for the released date.

JaLes is a homeschool teacher. She has studied human behavior, child development, and psychology of learning. She is successful at planning, writing, and creating successful learning materials. She is a co-administrator of a Texas homeschool co-op where she teaches students ranging from Pre K- high school-aged. Learn More: