Reading Fitness

3 Keys To Reading

Children are made readers on the laps of their parents. ~ Emily Buchwald

Being physically fit encompasses 3 components: strength, endurance, and flexibility.

Being able to read well also comprises the same three components. Include these components when working with your children, and your children will be on the road to a fit, literate life.

  1. Strength

weight lifting

Muscle isn’t built with magic workouts or rep ranges. It’s built with hard work and consistency. The same is true with reading. The ability to read well is built with hard work and consistency. In order to flex your reading muscles, you must persevere through the struggle.

In order to get strong at reading, there must be a workout plan. A balanced literacy plan with an action plan to accomplish good reading. This plan must be implemented daily and consistently. Balanced reading consists of 4 parts: guided reading, self-selected reading, working with words (phonetics, high frequency words, & how words work such as prefixes and suffixes, etc.), and writing. (Yes, 65% of children learn to read through their own writing; thus, writing is an important part of learning to read.) The next 4 posts will give specific details about each component of balanced literacy. For now, think of guided reading as reading with your child- it is their instructional level; thus, they need assistance to learn the new text. Self-selected reading is allowing your child to read any books of their choice at their independent reading level which is at least 6 months to a year grade level below their instructional level. Working with words is just that: learning how our language works such as syllables, homophones, word families, high frequency words, prefixes, suffixes, etc. Writing is allowing children to put their thoughts onto paper. (I will share a post on just the topic of guided writing in the upcoming series.)

Practice, practice, and practice some more will build your child’s reading muscles (skills). Guided practice, practice with the help of an adult, leads to becoming a stronger reader. Additionally, lots of practice also leads to endurance.

  1. Endurance

This is the amount of time spent reading. I’ve noticed that most children get tired of reading to me after about 15 minutes. At this time, they begin to rub their eyes. Just like in exercise, the way to improve at endurance is to slowly extend the amount of time; thus, building endurance. Good readers are able read kidsto read for extended periods of time. Therefore, in order to help your child be a good reader, increase their independent reading time by just 5 minutes each week until they are up to 30 minutes a day. When they are reading independently for 30 minutes each day, you will notice a huge difference in their ability to read and comprehend better. It is always best to sit with your child and listen to them read so that you are ensuring quality. Additionally, be sure to read 15 to 30 minutes aloud to your child every day. (Okay, if this isn’t realistic, then, aim for a minimum of 3 times a week. This is better than not doing it at all.) Remember to follow your workout plan for reading. This leads to intentional, consistent reading which leads to finishing strong and with endurance.

  1. Flexibility

Blessed are the flexible for they will not allow themselves to become bent out of shape.” ~ Robert Ludlum

With all plans, you must remain flexible. One of the components to being physically fit is flexibility. In fact, the Presidential Award has a standard measurement that you must be able to meet in order to be flexible by their standards. You must sit with your legs out in front of you and be able to reach forward a certain distance which labels you flexible. Well, with a reading plan, you must also be flexible. Sometimes, progress doesn’t happen as quickly as expected; thus, reset the goals and continue to stick to them. Remember the story of the Tortoise And The Hare? Slow and steady win the race. So, if a day doesn’t go as planned, be forgiving of yourself and your child, and begin again. Mistakes are for learning. Just get back on track with your plan and work toward consistency, and in no time, you will have a star reader.

When working with your children, remember that their reading fitness consists of 3 components: strength, endurance, & flexibility. Like all workout plans, please remember to work the plan at least 3 days a week. (Working the plan more days a week, will give you faster results.) Consistency is the key to their reading success. A child becomes a better reader by reading. 🙂


Please share this article with others that you think would benefit from these tips. Also, please ask any questions that you may have about teaching children reading or writing. Leave your questions in the comments. I’ll answer. 🙂

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