Reading Fluency

Reading requires a lot of moving parts.

In addition to a good working vocabulary, reading fluency depends on various brain skills working efficiently together. In fact, even one weak cognitive skill can impact fluency and make reading harder than it needs to be.

Here are a few examples of how weak cognitive skills can impact reading fluency:

Working memory, also known as short-term memory, is key to successful reading because it is the skill that enables your brain to hang onto ideas while you are using them. If this skill is weak, it can impact how long you hang on to information you just read, which can translate into having to go back and reread things repeatedly before they sink in.

Overall processing speed is another skill that is critical for reading fluency, which is defined as being able to read accurately, quickly, and with expression. When processing speed is weak, reading will be slower and choppier than desired.

Finally, auditory processing is a third cognitive skills that is absolutely foundational for reading success. In fact, studies show that the majority of reading struggles are linked to a weakness in this skill alone.

What is auditory processing?

Auditory processing is the skill that enables your brain analyze, blend, and segment sounds. It has been described as “what the brain does with what the ears hear.” When this skill is weak, it can cause problems not just with reading fluency, but reading comprehension as well.

Here are some signs that auditory processing skills may be weak:

  • Unusually bothered by loud or sudden noises
  • Upset by noisy environment
  • Behavior and performance improve in quieter settings
  • Reading is slow or choppy
  • Careless spelling mistakes
  • Speech-language difficulties
  • Avoids reading aloud
  • Difficulty with verbal (word) math problems
  • Conversations are sometimes difficult to follow
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Memory issues

Strong cognitive skills make reading easier

If it turns out that weak cognitive skills are at the root of reading struggles for you or for your child, there are mental exercises you can do that improve cognitive performance of these skills and others, too.

Cognitive training, also known as brain training, uses fun, challenging mental exercises to target and strengthen weak skills, most often done one-on-one with a personal brain trainer.

Does it work? Does brain training change cognitive performance? The following chart shows the average results of 17,998 children and adults before and after brain training at LearningRx, a pioneer and leader in one-on-one brain training. The scores below are represented in percentiles, which show where someone ranks compared to 100 of their peers. Here are the results:

Graph of Pre and Post Percentiles of clients before and after cognitive training

*These are the results of past clients. To learn more about brain training results, visit and download the full report.

If you would like to know if weak cognitive are making reading difficult, a one-hour Cognitive Assessment can help. You can schedule a Cognitive Assessment at any LearningRx Brain Training Center near you.