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Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

Improving Reading Fluency With Nonsense Words

Parents of students in kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade may be aware of using “nonsense” words in teaching phonics and reading. Many school districts are using Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS), a data-based program comprised of procedures and assessments for early literacy and reading skills for kindergarten through grade 6. An important part of DIBELS is the use of nonsense words.

If your school district is using DIBELS, you likely have heard some nonsense words at home.

What could words like wok, bub, and zot possibly have to do with helping a young child become a fluent reader? As studies have shown, quite a bit! Nonsense words, as part of a complete phonics program, are valuable tools and good indicators of reading fluency. Here’s an easy breakdown:

  • Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear sounds in spoken language.
  • Recognizing letter sounds, and blending those sounds helps a child decode unknown words. 
  • The more easily words are decoded, the more fluently a child can read.
  • Fluency is the key to good reading comprehension!

One good way to help your child practice these types of words is to make up a list of your own silly words together. Another way is to read lots of Dr. Seuss books. They are full of nonsense words that practice rhyme and phonemic awareness.

So have fun embracing nonsense words while helping your child become a confident, fluent reader!

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