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Fluency in Kindergarten

When thinking about fluency, it’s important to note the differences in how to focus on fluency, based on the grade level, or ability levels of students. Today I wanted to focus on fluency in kindergarten. While kindergartners come in at all different ability levels, you can still focus on fluency, in multiple ways. Check out how you can focus on fluency in kindergarten and gradually develop fluent reading skills.

The Progression of Fluency Skills

There is a progression of fluency skills that you can use to help determine where your students are at in their abilities. 

First, early readers will begin with becoming fluent in their ability to recognize letter names and letter sounds (phonemes). 

Next, they will become capable of recognizing the written form of those phonemes, which are graphemes. 

Then, readers progress to recognizing parts of words and phonics patterns within words. 

This is followed by, reading and recognizing high frequency words.

The high frequency word reading is then followed by students being able to read simple sentences. They see both words they can decode because of the phonics patterns they’ve already discovered, as well as high frequency words they now recognize. 

Last, readers then put all these skills together and read actual texts, or books. 

You can learn more about the progression of fluency skills in The Fluency Files

The Progression of Fluency Stages

In The Fluency Files, I also reference the progression of fluency stages, to help you understand how you begin focusing on fluency in Kindergarten. Early readers need to begin with the fluency skill of accuracy. This then continues throughout all stages of reading, with the focus simply shifting to accurate reading of more challenging words.

Once students have mastered letter name and sound recognition, as well as simple phonics pattern sounds, they are ready to focus on words.

Early readers need to develop their decoding skills in:

  • isolated words
  • phrases
  • simple sentences
  • short texts
Following this order will allow early readers to develop their ability to read words accurately. It’s important to begin with letter names and sounds with kindergartners, and then move on to isolated words, phrases, etc. 

For kindergartners who are working heavily on decoding words, check out my Reading Intervention Mats! These will help your students build their accuracy skills, while also focusing on the Big 5 in literacy skills development!

Some kindergartners, will come in with a huge amount of word knowledge, and may be ready to read short texts, sooner than others. Those students can focus on accuracy within texts earlier. 

If you have students ready for short texts, I have kindergarten fluency passages available both on TPT and in The Fluency Files!


What does fluency in kindergarten look like?

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Now that you’re aware of the progression of fluency skills and stages, you hopefully have a better idea of what fluency in kindergarten looks like.

Once students have mastered letter names and sounds, you can move forward to decoding words and reading high frequency words.

You’ll want to focus on having students do repeated readings of:

  • words with specific phonics patterns
  • phrases with high frequency and words with specific phonics patterns
  • simple sentences which include those high frequency words and decodable words
  • short texts with high frequency words and words with specific phonics patterns
This does not have to take long, but it should happen every single day. When focusing on decoding accurately, repeatedly, students can move along quicker, as they develop their fluency skills. 
You can simply write words, phrases, sentences, or short texts, on a board, and then have students read through them. This can be done in whole group settings, small groups, in literacy centers, or even during independent work time. You’ll want to differentiate what is focused on, based on the students’ ability levels.


Fluency Assessments in Kindergarten 


Oral reading fluency is not typically tested in kindergarten. Instead the benchmark assessments often focus on letter names, sounds, nonsense words, and CVC words. By working on their fluency skills like suggested above, students will make progress on their fluency skills that are tested during benchmarks. 

However, some students will be ready to focus on improving their oral reading fluency as well. You can focus on timing those students for one minute at a time, on a repeated basis, with the same text. This will give students a chance to improve their accurate word reading, within texts. 


While you focus on your general population of students, as well as your students achieving above grade level, it’s also important to keep your ESL students in mind when focusing on fluency. You’ll want to give these readers multiple opportunities to feel successful and build their confidence in word reading before moving on to new fluency skills. While they’re learning a new language, speed and accuracy are an added challenge for these learners. Providing visual clues and images when it fits, will benefit these students greatly. So, not only having individual words or short phrases for those students to read, but also including a visual to go with those. 


If you’re ready to learn more about fluency in the classroom, for all ability levels, check out:

The Fluency Files

Fluency Passages

How to Create Fluency Toolkits

FREE Fluency Passages


Aylin Claahsen

Aylin Claahsen

Providing resources and support to engage all readers.

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Hi, I'm Aylin!

I’m so happy you’re here! I’m a certified reading specialist who loves talking all things literacy. I have a huge passion for providing resources and support to engage all readers!


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