How Executive Function Skills Impact Reading

What are Executive Function Skills?

Executive function skills are part of our daily lives. These are the planning, organizing, and prioritizing skills that help you start a task and stay focused on it until completion. From doing your homework to planning a family vacation to building a sand castle, these skills are critical.

We don’t often think of the connection executive functions skills have with reading, but these skills also impact reading.

How Executive Function Impacts Reading

Any time you read:

  • You decide what you are going to read.
  • You decide when you are going to read.
  • You plan your reading to fit it into your day.

As you read a news story, an article, or a book, you constantly are using your executive functions skills by asking yourself:

  • Is this important?
  • Do I need to remember this?
  • What associations can I draw to the characters?
  • Do I have any personal life experiences that are relatable?

As you ask yourself questions about what you are reading as you are reading, it helps you retain, understand, and fully comprehend what you read. This is actually a component of executive function.

What reading processes are affected by executive function?

Your working memory and mental flexibility are activated by your executive function skills (asking yourself these questions, planning, and organizing your thoughts). Once you are able to organize your thoughts with your working memory and flexibility, you are able to act succinctly.

  • Vocabulary: helps you organize and categorize words to retain meaning
  • Grammar: helps you interpret content (the nuances and subtleties of the English language, for example: whether a group of words is a statement or a question)
  • Word and sentence emphasis: what words and sentences are important to gather meaning from (what type of mood or emotional context does the passage convey)

Executive function skills and working memory come into every aspect of reading. This includes retrieving word meaning and integrating that with prior knowledge and experience.

Your ability to maintain focus impacts your ability to read easily. Working memory comes into play by helping us to hold onto multiple bits of information in a paragraph as well as a story.

Executive Function Skills Build Foundational Reading Skills

Research by Laurie Cutting and George McCloskey has established the contributions of executive function to the reading process. Executive function skills work directly with working memory. If you improve your executive function skills, your reading comprehension skills will naturally improve. There are specific activities for different age groups that strengthen executive function and reading skills.

Summer Reading Program 2019

Summer Reading Program Includes Executive Function Activities

We included executive function activities in our Summer Reading Program because of this direct connection. As executive function skills improve, reading skills improve.

The Summer Reading Program is for entering kindergarteners through 8th graders. Every student can improve their reading skills.

Learn more about our Summer Reading Program here.

Who is Bonnie Terry?

Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET is the author of Five Minutes To Better Reading Skills, Ten Minutes To Better Study Skills and numerous others books, reading games, and guides. She is a Board Certified Educational Therapist and internationally recognized as America’s Leading Learning Specialist and the founder of Terry is an expert in identifying students’ learning disabilities. Ms. Terry coaches teachers and parents so they can give their child a 2 to 4-year learning advantage in just 45-60 minutes a day. She is a frequent media guest and speaker.

Reading Fluency: What is it? And Steps to Improve it This Summer

Enrollment is open for Summer Reading Program 2019 (Grades K-8).

What is Reading Fluency?

We often hear people about being fluent in different languages. This means that they are able to easily express and articulate themselves in that language. But, what is reading fluency?

Reading fluency is the ability to read easily, accurately, and articulately. It is the ability to accurately decode words. It is the ability to automatically process words. When reading aloud, it is also the ability to correctly add intonation (the rise and fall, pattern and pitch of voice when speaking) to words. This intonation correctly gives emphasis and life to a passage of words.

Reading fluency bridges the gap between word recognition and reading comprehension. When you are able to quickly, accurately, and easily read words, it is much easier to immediately understand the meaning of a passage. If you are not fluent and you are slow to read multiple words in sequence, it is much harder to comprehend or understand that sentence or paragraph as a whole.

Is it Important to be a Fluent Reader?

A fluent reader is a reader that reads with quickness and accuracy without effort or mindful attention to the mechanics of reading. In other words, a fluent reader has the ability to retrieve and read words automatically. Efficient readers are fluent readers. Reading slowly, single word by single word leads to both poor comprehension and frustration. If you can’t read quickly and hold the pieces of what you read in your mind, you typically don’t even like to read. It takes too much energy and labor.

If your child becomes a fluent reader, they could finally enjoy reading and get their assignments done faster. When you are a fluent reader, you can read at a faster rate while understanding what you’ve read. You improve your reading comprehension, processing speed, and other areas of perception.

Do these statements describe your child?

Do they…

  • Enjoy reading?
  • Take a long time to read?
  • Skip, repeat, or mispronounce words when reading?

Are they…

  • Confident fluent readers?
  • Reading in their free time?
  • Excited to read?
  • Decent readers but there might be room for improvement?
Summer Reading Program 2019 - Reserve Online
Learn more about the program at

Announcing: 2019 Summer Reading Program for K – 8th Grades

Phonics, Reading Fluency, Comprehension and More

The Summer Reading Program is a 6-week program with videos, audios, reading selections, handouts, and brain-body activities, all online. Each week you will get a reading drill specifically designed to work on becoming a fluent reader and improve comprehension, visual tracking, and processing speed like those in our Five Minutes to Better Reading Skills books.

You will see progress each week. We have seen substantial reading fluency gains using our reading tools with hundreds of students in-house. Our results have been confirmed by an independent study on Bonnie Terry’s reading tools. This study was conducted by Dr. Debra Wilson with students grades 3-6 over a period of 5 years.

Research Behind Reading Fluency

The National Reading Panel report (2000) and other studies (Chard, Vaughn, & Tyler, 2002; Kuhn & Stahl, 2000; Rasinski & Hoffman, 2003) have given great emphasis to the importance of reading fluency, but it is still not a major component in learning to read in many schools and reading programs.

Samuels, a reading researcher from the 1970’s stated in 2006, “Comprehension requires the fluent mastery of the surface-level aspects of reading.” Additionally, Bashir and Hook in 2008 state, “There is a Key Link between fluency (word identification) and comprehension. There are specific ways you can improve your reading fluency.

Cecil Mercer’s research from the University of Florida has also proved short, daily practice of five to six minutes a day creates substantial reading gains. The key to overall success was doing the repeated oral reading over a period of time such as six months to twenty-three months.

Everyone Can Improve Their Reading Fluency and Comprehension

One homeschool mom recently tried our Five Minutes to Better Reading Skills out with her family:

Reading Fluency Review from Homeschool Mom

“When I first heard of Bonnie Terry’s 5 Minutes to Better Reading Skills program, I assumed it was only for beginning readers. Not so! It’s for everyone! My kids from 3rd to 6th grade are already benefiting from it and we’ve only been using it for a week. Their reading speed, confidence, and comprehension are going up by leaps and bounds!”

Read the Full Review

The Summer Reading Program 2019 includes Reading Fluency Training

Pam Cutler states, “I love your reading program and rave about it to everyone!! My son’s reading, writing, and self-confidence have dramatically improved, and the activities were fun to do.”

Karen Macy states, “My son was flunking out of first grade. We hired a private tutor, met with his teacher and his school principal. Nothing was working. The school was talking about holding my son back in the first grade. I felt that would have been devastating to his self-esteem. By chance one of the teachers mentioned the Bonnie Terry Learning System. I immediately went online and ordered it. Within weeks he was making progress. In fact, he just blossomed. He turned his school performance around so much that he was moved from the lowest groups to the middle groups and then the highest groups. It was amazing. He was so excited because work that he struggled with was now easy. His teacher was surprised with the change in him and he passed on to the second grade with no more problems.”

Learn More About the Summer Reading Program

Frequently Asked Questions

Laterality and Learning

Laterality is one of the nine areas of tactile-kinesthetic processing that impacts learning. Simply stated, laterality is the internal awareness of space located to the right and left of the mid-line in the body. Furthermore, it is the internal awareness of both sides of the body working together and in opposition to each other.

Tactile-Kinesthetic Perception

Laterality and Learning: The Impact

Laterality difficulties can lead to problems with recognizing the difference between ‘b’ and ‘d’, ‘p’ and ‘q’, ‘was’ and ‘saw’ or telling how far or near something is in relation to themselves. This is also characteristic of children that don’t have a preferred hand for writing (being right handed or left handed). Sometimes children and even adults have difficulty with holding a piece of paper at the same time they are writing on it. Often these children have difficulty with crossing the mid-line.

These problems directly impact reading comprehension skills and your ability to read fluently. They also impact spatial awareness and your ability to mentally visualize both objects and stories (which aids memory skills) and rotate objects in space. Remember, a ‘d’ is the same shape as a ‘b’ and flipped down and over a ‘p’ or a ‘q’.

The US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health report states:

A meta-analysis of Uttal et al. (2013) proved stable and transferable improvement of visuo-spatial abilities via special forms of spatial training even if the post-tests were not conducted immediately after finishing the training period. Beside that, the increase of subjects with initially weaker visuo-spatial abilities was larger than for rather skilled subjects.

This report also notes,  “There is lot of research which shows the relation of motor tasks, particularly motor tasks, which are conducted with hands and different kinds of cognitive activity, especially the influence on mental rotation performance of children and adults.” (Wohlschläger and Wohlschläger, 1998; Wiedenbauer and Jansen-Osmann, 2008).

Laterality and Learning Activities

There are a variety of activities you can do to improve laterality. One activity is to move a soccer ball with small kicks  using your dominant foot for 25 feet and then turn around and move it back with small kicks, using your non-dominant foot. Additional laterality activities are included in the Summer Reading Program‘s Brain-Body Activities.

Who is Bonnie Terry?

Bonnie Terry is a Board Certified Educational Therapist and internationally recognized as America’s Leading Learning Specialist and the founder of Terry is an expert in developing learning programs that target how people learn through the visual, auditory, and tactile/kinesthetic processing systems. Terry coaches teachers and parents so they can give their child a 2 to 4-year learning advantage in just 45-60 minutes a day. She is a frequent media guest and speaker.