1 minute reading time (252 words)

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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