Automaticity and Fluency
Automaticity in reading is the ability to identify words fast, accurately, and effortlessly. It is the result of full mastery of the reader's sight vocabulary, so that known words are recognized at a level that requires no conscious thought. Beginning readers recognize very few words instantly. Through repeated exposure to the same words, they increase the number of words that they can recognize instantly.
It is particularly important that developing readers learn to recognize words that occur very frequently in print. The 25 most common words make up about one-third of all reading material, so automatic recognition of those words has a tremendous impact on reading speed and comprehension. Examples of high-frequency words are the, and, to, you, he, it, of.
What is the Dolch Word List?
The Dolch words are the 220 most frequently found words in print. These words are usually learned in first and second grade; students who learn these words have a good base for beginning reading. Many of these words cannot be sounded out because they do not follow decoding rules, so they must be learned as sight words.
Fluency is the ability to read connected text rapidly, smoothly, and without conscious effort. Fluent readers are sensitive to the rhythm and flow of language, so they can read with expression, and their reading is enhanced by the ability to anticipate what comes next in text.
Many people with dyslexia are able to become accurate readers, but are not able to gain automaticity or fluency. They are able to keep up in high school and college through hard work and determination, but their reading remains labored and slow. However, you can help your child build fluency by providing appropriate support and instruction geared to building automatic reading skills. This support with higher-end reading skills is as important to your child as learning the basics.