Learning to Read → Reading to Learn

Key Points for Fluent Readers

Learning to Read → Reading to Learn

As children move into the second and third grades, the focus of reading transitions from decoding and word recognition to fluency and then reading comprehension.  By fourth grade, children are expected to use reading skills to obtain new knowledge, or “reading to learn.” Thus, reading skills become essential for continued academic achievement.


Decoding is the ability to "sound out" a word - knowing the sounds that correspond to each letter or combination of letters in order to recognize a spoken word.

Word recognition

Word recognition is the ability to identify a word while reading, either through decoding (sounding it out) or sight word identification. Sight word identification means the word has been memorized, either because it occurs frequently or can not be sounded out.


Fluency in reading refers to the ability to recognize and read words accurately, smoothly and quickly, usually in context.

Reading comprehension

Reading comprehension is the child's ability to understand what they are reading.

Key Points for Fluent Readers

Fluent reading can be difficult for children with CAS, even if they are good readers. Not only does it require reading skills but also depends on motor planning/programming for speech, which is the primary deficit for children with CAS. Continued positive practice is essential and will also help to build speech skills. Below are some pointers for helping your child become a fluent reader. Ask your child’s speech-language pathologist (SLP) and classroom teacher if these ideas are appropriate for your child or if there are additional recommendations or modifications needed for your child to succeed.

Continue shared book reading

Continue shared book reading, taking turns reading to lessen the burden on your child while making sure they follow along and see the words on page as you read. Seeing and hearing the words is critical for building sight word vocabulary. Audiobooks can supplement, but not replace, shared book reading.

Avoid timed reading and story retell

Timed reading and story retell are often used as measures of reading proficiency. However, for a child with CAS, these measures can underestimate their reading skills, due to their speech difficulties. Use yes/no (e.g. "Did Sally feel sad?"), multiple choice questions (e.g. "Did Sally feel sad, mad or happy?") and open-ended questions (e.g. "How did Sally feel?") to determine how well your child is understanding what they read. If your child struggles to answer questions with speech, consider giving another way for them to respond, such as pointing to a picture, to show they are understanding what they read.

Continue to teach letter groups and spelling rules

Continue to point out and build your child’s awareness of more advanced letter groups (vowel and consonant diagraphs) and spelling patterns. Examples include rules like "when two vowels go walking the first one does the talking" (as in "oa" says the long "o" sound) and learning the sounds associated with letter groups such as "ch" and "ight."


Begin to emphasize the importance of comprehension; reading is not just saying the words out loud, but more importantly, understanding what you read. You can work on this with your child by stopping after every paragraph or page to summarize the action or the main information. Another way to aid comprehension is to talk about how what your child just read fits with previous information they learned/read or how it relates to real-life situations they have experienced.

Stay positive

Continue to keep practice positive and enjoyable. This is the time when many children who are experiencing difficulty begin to resist reading, often resulting in less practice, which can lead to the child falling further behind. Another way to think of it is “the good readers become great readers, and the struggling readers become poor readers." Do everything possible to keep your child engaged in reading! One important way is to follow your child's lead in selecting reading material that is interesting to them.

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