Strategy for Reading Fluency in Teens

By Elise Wile
Teenagers with reading fluency difficulties often become frustrated with schoolwork.
Teenagers with reading fluency difficulties often become frustrated with schoolwork.

Fluency is the ability to read a text quickly and accurately, according to If your teen tends to trip over words when she's reading grade level texts, she's experiencing a problem with this basic reading skill. As a parent, you are well-situated to help her overcome this difficulty because the strategies to increase reading fluency are easy to implement at home.


Talk about what your teen is going to read. If she's flummoxed by the prospect of tackling Homer's "Odyssey," spend time talking to her about quests and those that everyday people undertake daily. Discuss the history behind the book. If your teen is reading "To Kill a Mockingbird," you might talk about some differences between life in the 1950s and today. Having background knowledge helps teens to focus and maintain their interest, according to an article in the October 2005 journal "Educational Leadership." It also increases comprehension, which is linked to increased fluency.

Model Fluency

If your teen tends to trip over words while reading, one way you can help him is to read out loud, letting him hear the cadence of your words and how you pronounce them. Any struggling reader needs the opportunity to listen to a fluent reader, according to the National Institute for Literacy. Read a book out loud to your teen that might otherwise have inaccessible vocabulary. It'll be an alternative to television and an opportunity to spend time together.


Encourage your teen to read out loud as well. Practice makes perfect, and reading out loud is preferable to reading silently when it comes to developing fluency, advises the National Institute for Literacy. Allow your teen to out loud by herself in her room, if she feels embarrassed reading in front of family members. Occasionally insist that she read for you so that you can gently correct mispronunciations and assess her progress.

Select Appropriate Material

If you notice your teen is stumbling over every other word, the text he is reading is too difficult and he is likely to become frustrated. Whenever possible, choose materials that address a topic that he has background knowledge of. Choose books that are at a level that he can read with minimal assistance. For example, having difficulty with three or four words on a page is OK, but not being able to pronounce or identify 20 words will have him yanking out his hair.

About the Author

Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.