How to teach children to read faster

Today there is simply too much reading expected of your child and there is no way your child can avoid it. In schools, students are bombarded with textbooks to read, notes to do and take, massive information to remember and recall on the test. The stress level sometimes goes through the roof and both students and parents become demotivated.

One of the keys to success in studies is teaching your child to read faster. Of course, there is a tendency to think that if I read faster, will I be able to understand what I am reading? As unlikely as it may seem, when you train yourself to read faster, you may actually understand better, and not just start thinking more clearly.

Reading faster is not a soft skill. It is more like a difficult skill and can be compared to the analogy of riding a bicycle. If you know how to ride a bike, think for a minute about when you first tried to ride a bike. It was easy? Were you able to keep your balance the first time you sat on the bike? Probably not! However, you persevered and sooner or later your body just fell into line and the next thing you know you can keep your balance and riding a bike becomes a piece of cake. What’s interesting about your ability to ride a bike is that once you’ve learned this skill, it stays with you for the rest of your life. It is almost as if a new software program has been installed in your brain and you can never delete this program.

Reading faster is very similar to the skill of riding a bike. You have to know the techniques involved to get your eyes to capture words faster and to convince your brain to process this information effectively. It is easy? Well, it depends on your level of commitment and if you have the positive mental attitude to practice the technique until you reach a level of unconscious competence.

So, as a parent, what can you do to help your child read faster?

First, you need to understand that our eyes are motivated by movement. Try looking at an inanimate object for an extended period of time and see what happens. You will notice that your vision will start to blur and you may see a double. The thing about human eyes is that they are a direct extension of our brain. So everything you see with your eyes travels through the optic nerves and eventually the information is processed in the brain. The good news here is that our human eyes have the ability to process an image in about a quarter of a second. Additionally, the eye has wide peripheral vision that allows it to capture information within a 170 degree arc. This means that instead of looking at one word by word, you can actually see up to 4 words at a glance by exercising your peripheral vision. So if you want to read faster, what you should do is try to make your eyes move through the words twice as fast. The most effective way to do this is to use your fingers to scroll through the words as you read.

The second thing is that when you are sliding your fingers across the page, try to synchronize your eyes with the movement of your fingers and visualize the words that you are reading. Initially, this may seem impossible and frustrating, but there’s actually a lot going on in your brain when you do it. One of them is that your brain is now doing everything it can to process information as quickly as possible.

This happens because, like any other creature in the animal kingdom, our bodies are configured to survive. The senses we possess are meant to keep us on high alert against predators and to capture or find food. As such, it would be impossible for your eyes to not be able to follow the movement of your fingers as you scroll through what you’re reading, since it’s very much a survival instinct.

Once your brain gets used to the faster-than-normal movement of your fingers over the texts or articles you’re reading, your ability to process information faster will improve. In fact, as impossible as it may seem now, when you start doing this you will find that you can understand better if you read faster.

So as a parent, if you want to motivate your child to read faster, what you need to do is instill in them the habit of using their fingers to glide through whatever text they are reading. As this habit takes hold, the child will slowly but surely develop the habit of processing information faster and will learn to develop greater concentration when reading.

The sooner you get your child started on this simple and rewarding habit, the more benefits you and your child will reap. Not only that, as the child becomes comfortable with this method of reading, she will become more enthusiastic and will want to experiment with different texts and articles that will enhance her knowledge base.