What are Repeated Readings?

(And why are they a must?)

BY ARI FERTEL

As I’ve discussed in previous blog posts, your child needs to read for 30 minutes/day for 3-6 months in order to seriously upgrade their reading level.

But here’s a new piece of the protocol for you—they should read (or be read) the same thing at least 4 times/day. This is called repeated readings.

Repeated readings dramatically accelerate a child’s reading progress.

Whether your child is reading 30 minutes/day with you or with a tutor, they should not be going from article to article or paging through a book. Instead, they should take a body of content and read it (and listen to a fluent reading of it) at least 4 times in a row.

Why?

Because repeated readings allow a child to achieve a higher level of fluency, and a familiarity with that level of fluency helps them achieve it again in future reading opportunities.

Let me put it like this: it’s hard to get somewhere if you’ve never been there before. But once you’ve been there, it’s easier to get back.

Repeated readings take a child to a level of reading they would otherwise never achieve. And that has a permanent effect on their reading level.

My daughter started taking violin lessons a number of years ago. She became a serious violinist, practicing 2-4 hours/day. What fascinated me was the amount of time spent learning one piece. We’re talking months. She played a piece a thousand times (maybe more) before moving on.

One day I asked her teacher, “Why is she playing the same piece over and over?”

Her teacher responded, “She starts out playing the notes; it takes a while before she plays the music.”

My daughter could play the notes to any musical piece. But it was only by playing those notes over and over again that she found the rhythm, the tempo, and began to express herself musically.

In a previous blog post I discussed the relationships between accuracy, automaticity, prosody, fluency, and comprehension. (Automaticity is the ease with which your child can read accurately. Prosody is the ability to read with expression). In short…

Accuracy + Automaticity + Prosody = Fluency

and…

Fluency > Comprehension

Or you could look at it like this…

Accuracy > Automaticity > Prosody > Comprehension

Obviously, the more your child reads a piece of text, the easier it will be for them to decode the words and read the text accurately. Their familiarity with the text frees their mind to work on reading more fluently, in other words, with expression.

At first, children just read words. Through repetition, those words start to include the music of fluency.

Sally Shaywitz, M.D., Co-Director of the Yale Center for the Study of Learning and Attention and a member of National Reading Panel said it like this:

“At least four correct readings are necessary for automatic recognition of a word. And while accuracy is a necessary precursor to fluency, accuracy does not necessarily evolve into fluency.”

Your child could learn to read accurately but still not achieve fluency. You know the one-word-at-a-time monotone reader? Very often the problem is that they’re not doing repeated readings.

Repeated readings turn accuracy into fluency, and that’s when your child starts to read with passion and energy—that’s when you start to hear the music.

Before I developed Reading Buddy Software, I researched other reading software and online programs. Most of them are weak in this area. Most programs allow a child to read whatever they want and then move on.

Mistake!

That’s not in the child’s best interest. A young reader needs repeated readings.

So when I developed Reading Buddy Software, I employed a process that required the child to read each text three times and hear it read fluently to them twice. By that time, in most cases, the child mastered the text, learned to read new words, and achieved an elevated level of fluency and comprehension that they were ready to apply to future readings.

If your child is being tutored, make sure they’re doing repeated readings.

If you’re reading with them, I recommend you use one text per day and supervise your child reading it three times and let them hear you read it fluently twice. This is exactly the protocol used in Reading Buddy. If you want Reading Buddy Software to do the work for you, you can get it here.

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Ari Fertel

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