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Speed Reading for Elementary or wait until middle school?


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I'm curious what you mean by speed reading and what your goal is. I read very, very quickly, and many have called it "speed reading" and assumed I'm skimming or following some sort of scheme, but in reality, I just read quickly. Sometime when I was in high school my family got some set of educational cds that included one on speed reading and I practiced with it some, but very little and mostly just out of curiosity. If one of my children was interested, I might try to find something like that in high school, but in general I believe that the ability to read quickly comes from lots and lots of reading.

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13 hours ago, Xahm said:

I'm curious what you mean by speed reading and what your goal is. I read very, very quickly, and many have called it "speed reading" and assumed I'm skimming or following some sort of scheme, but in reality, I just read quickly. Sometime when I was in high school my family got some set of educational cds that included one on speed reading and I practiced with it some, but very little and mostly just out of curiosity. If one of my children was interested, I might try to find something like that in high school, but in general I believe that the ability to read quickly comes from lots and lots of reading.

I also think it depends on one's reading "style." Like, I'm a visual speller, but I'm an audio reader -- I hear the words in my head. Some people are purely "meaning" readers, I think, and that's easier to speed up. (DH says he's more like that -- he doesn't exactly hear the words.) 

I'm an adequately fast reader, but I think there's a limit to how fast I could get. 

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I actually remember doing a speed reading class in elementary school (Public School graduate 1- college). I was taught things like how to skim for important information, etc. If that's what you are talking about where you would praise a kid for how quickly they can read a book and summarize it, my answer would be NEVER.   

I found being able to "speed read" detrimental in my adult life and when schooling required me to actually study/gain information on my own.   

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1 hour ago, Clarita said:

I actually remember doing a speed reading class in elementary school (Public School graduate 1- college). I was taught things like how to skim for important information, etc. If that's what you are talking about where you would praise a kid for how quickly they can read a book and summarize it, my answer would be NEVER.   

I found being able to "speed read" detrimental in my adult life and when schooling required me to actually study/gain information on my own.   

I. Agree.  Similar experience and results.  

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1 hour ago, Resilient said:

I. Agree.  Similar experience and results.  

Thanks for the feedback!

 

2 hours ago, Clarita said:

I actually remember doing a speed reading class in elementary school (Public School graduate 1- college). I was taught things like how to skim for important information, etc. If that's what you are talking about where you would praise a kid for how quickly they can read a book and summarize it, my answer would be NEVER.   

I found being able to "speed read" detrimental in my adult life and when schooling required me to actually study/gain information on my own.   

Thanks! I was never selected for the Speed Reading course at my elementary school--you had to be at a certain level of reading fluency and I never did well enough on those tests. I didn't do the Speed Reading course summer before middle school because of a schedule conflict.

I remember being bogged down in the reading requirements for 7th-9th grade for sure. It was terrible. I was a steady, but not particularly fast reader. I knew other kids who'd been through a Speed Reading program and they all seemed to benefit from it greatly especially in High school.

 

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I agree with "never."

I am a slow reader, even though I was an early/"good" reader as a kid.  I like to stop and consider the deeper messages and make connections to other things as I read.  I also inherited some of my dad's dyslexic challenges, so I see things differently than how they actually look, and often have to check / re-read things that don't seem right the first time.

In 8th grade, in the summer gifted program, they did a speed reading program.  I was able to get up to faster speed, but I didn't really get anything out of it.  I have no desire to rush through a book or article.  If it's worth reading, it's worth reading slowly enough to really digest it, turn the ideas over, compare and contrast, think about how I might apply this to life or whom I might share this with.

My youngest daughter was an early/good reader, but at some point she started whizzing through books, and her comprehension, retention, and enjoyment decreased.  Now she hardly reads books for pleasure at all.  I'd rather she really read one good book than superficially read a pile of them.  (She might be reading a lot on the internet instead, but I still think it's sad.)

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2 hours ago, mathmarm said:

I remember being bogged down in the reading requirements for 7th-9th grade for sure. It was terrible. I was a steady, but not particularly fast reader. I knew other kids who'd been through a Speed Reading program and they all seemed to benefit from it greatly especially in High school.

 

Essentially I felt like the class taught you how to skim and then fill in the information with your head/critical thinking skills. I guess it may have helped getting through the useless busy work in middle school and high school. In real life though if you are reading something you really want to know what the author is telling you rather than what you can figure by reading a portion of what the author wrote.

 

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The computer program my family had used a few different methods to improve actual reading speed. From what I remember, it would force you to read just slightly faster than was comfortable, trying to break people of "saying the words in their heads." It also used some form of highlighting that was intended to help you not have to move your eyes as much by increasing your use of peripheral vision while reading (again, if I recall correctly). For me, I already read fast enough that this didn't change much. All my life, though, I've been accused of skimming or scoffed at with "well, I like to enjoy MY books." I have very high reading comprehension and enjoyment. I'm just fast. 

All that to say, I wouldn't be opposed to letting fluently reading children mess around with a computer program like the one I was describing, but I wouldn't put them in any course teaching skimming and the like and calling it "speed reading." There's a place for skimming, like when your bookmark falls out and you are quickly finding where you left off, but that shouldn't be considered reading.

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17 minutes ago, Xahm said:

The computer program my family had used a few different methods to improve actual reading speed. From what I remember, it would force you to read just slightly faster than was comfortable, trying to break people of "saying the words in their heads." It also used some form of highlighting that was intended to help you not have to move your eyes as much by increasing your use of peripheral vision while reading (again, if I recall correctly). For me, I already read fast enough that this didn't change much. All my life, though, I've been accused of skimming or scoffed at with "well, I like to enjoy MY books." I have very high reading comprehension and enjoyment. I'm just fast. 

All that to say, I wouldn't be opposed to letting fluently reading children mess around with a computer program like the one I was describing, but I wouldn't put them in any course teaching skimming and the like and calling it "speed reading." There's a place for skimming, like when your bookmark falls out and you are quickly finding where you left off, but that shouldn't be considered reading.

What is one supposed to do instead of saying the words in your head, though? I’m not sure what that would even feel like...

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1 minute ago, Not_a_Number said:

What is one supposed to do instead of saying the words in your head, though? I’m not sure what that would even feel like...

I'm not sure how to describe it except just know them? Haha, not helpful, I'm sure. When you are driving and you see a stop sign, you probably react to it without saying "stop" in your head, right? I'm trying to come up with better examples. When you see a tree, you can have the knowledge that is a tree without actually naming it. You also don't have to hold it as a picture in your mind. You can just know it in some way that is hard to explain. When I'm reading, I'm holding the ideas or knowledge of what I've read in my head, not the words exactly, and not really a picture either.  Back when I could read German completely fluently, I sometimes wouldn't notice when a book switched between the languages, usually English sentences in a German book, because I was so focused on the ideas. Obviously, I read poetry very differently, and sometimes will stop to ponder an interesting turn of phrase in a novel or other text. 

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So,

@SKL@Clarita@Resilient Do you feel that Speed Reading was poorly taught at your school? Or was it well taught and you've just never got much use from it? What was the criteria for getting into the Speed Reading program? (If you knew/ remember)

 

@Xahm Do you remember what the Software was? We really prefer a screens-free education and childhood for K-8. We've made an exception for foreign language, but is there any reason that a speed reading software might be more effective than say, a speed reading book/course?

Currently, Jr. reads children's novels and nonfiction around 190-230 wpm depending on the density of the text and he has really solid comprehension.

We are aiming for a Lit-rich secondary education for him if we continue to homeschool, and we also have a couple of private schools in mind for him, and both of those schools have a big workload in math and reading material involved.

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25 minutes ago, Xahm said:

I'm not sure how to describe it except just know them? Haha, not helpful, I'm sure. When you are driving and you see a stop sign, you probably react to it without saying "stop" in your head, right? I'm trying to come up with better examples. When you see a tree, you can have the knowledge that is a tree without actually naming it. You also don't have to hold it as a picture in your mind. You can just know it in some way that is hard to explain. When I'm reading, I'm holding the ideas or knowledge of what I've read in my head, not the words exactly, and not really a picture either.  Back when I could read German completely fluently, I sometimes wouldn't notice when a book switched between the languages, usually English sentences in a German book, because I was so focused on the ideas. Obviously, I read poetry very differently, and sometimes will stop to ponder an interesting turn of phrase in a novel or other text. 

Yes, DH reads like this, but I don’t think I’d even be able to get started. I see and hear words when   I think about anything!!

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@mathmarm I can't judge whether it was poorly taught or not.  You had to be a good reader to get into the class, and I was always that.  The thing that it taught me was to acquire words quickly but not to make associations between ideas or follow a thread of an argument.  My husband reads slowly and so does my son--and they GET everything they read.  I read quickly and have to read everything twice to GET it.  

Speed reading also takes away the lingering wallow in a beautifully worded sentence or thought.  

There IS room for learning to SCAN.  Get the general idea, the flow of a thought, which helps in the acquisition of the words and ideas, and probably speeds things up a little bit--sometimes by letting you see that you already know what is in that section so you don't have to read it at all.

Scanning, skimming both have their place in reading.  I'm not convinced about speed-reading.

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2 hours ago, mathmarm said:

Do you feel that Speed Reading was poorly taught at your school? Or was it well taught and you've just never got much use from it? What was the criteria for getting into the Speed Reading program? (If you knew/ remember)

Speed reading happened in elementary sometime. I was in public school so, it's could have been implemented poorly. The outcome of learning to speed read is that I'm pretty good at skimming. I definitely don't read/say every word as I'm reading. I tend to for sure skip over words such as to, a, the - almost like my brain doesn't read them and I just assume one. It doesn't show up if I'm reading for fun. So if I read a story or a parenting book designed for the masses it's fine I can totally summarize for you what happened and everything. I would have trouble if I read a chapter and you ask me about some minute detail of the story that was only mentioned once. 

This makes it hard for me to read legal documents, research papers, textbooks and such in my adult life. In those a lot of details are only mentioned once but they are important. I can read a research paper and summarize it, but if I have to implement it I miss enough details to make it hard (usually I found that I may have filled in some of the words with other words, like a with the). So when I read things like that I end up now forcing myself to write it out (sometimes several times) just to make sure I read the author's words rather than put in my own.   

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4 hours ago, mathmarm said:

Do you remember what the Software was? We really prefer a screens-free education and childhood for K-8. We've made an exception for foreign language, but is there any reason that a speed reading software might be more effective than say, a speed reading book/course?

I looked it up, and I believe it was Ultimate Speed Reader sold in the Excel @ high school package by Knowledge Adventure. The more I think about it, the more I'd suggest waiting until high school. The advantage of the software is that it can time the reading and gradually increase the speed. I wouldn't want to let my kids use it until they were already loving to read and had good habits, like pausing to contemplate, fully ingrained. 

It sounds like your son is doing fine. If you want him ready to read lots in high school, I'd concentrate on having him read lots and widely. Having a strong base of general knowledge, a large vocabulary, and an intuitive understanding of various genres will go far in helping him read with speed, understanding, and enjoyment as he gets to more complex texts.

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I am an ultra speed reader. It's my super skill in life. It has been VERY handy in my professional life, but there is no way I would ever teach that as a formal skill.  

I do teach my kids how to investigate a book--we read the title, chapter headings, and index. I teach them how to look for topic sentences.  I do other deep investigation into books with our kids. But, I don't teach them how to skim read.  I think the key to skim reading effectively is to create a mental outline (visually, almost subconsciously, definitely sub vocally) of the material in your mind as you go. That's not a skill that is developmentally appropriate for elementary or jr high students.  Many high schoolers aren't ready for that either.  Beyond that, you're looking for gems as you go through--the outlying piece of information in a data set, the nuance to quotes, etc.  I know a lot of college age kids who struggle with that.

I did teach my oldest how to handle heavy reading loads as a high school student.  I thought there was a chance he might go to a top tier university. (He is totally capable of going, but chose a different path for personality reasons.)  Looking at my other kids, maybe my youngest would benefit from that, but it will be her choice, and I won't do it before high school. It's a lot to manage, and it can be soul killing if you aren't into it.

I would recommend working on vocabulary building exercises instead, and working on denser material.  Greek and latin roots have done more for my kids than almost anything else in the area of reading comprehension.  We also practice on reading aloud in scientific text for my jr high students. Pacing and prosody matter.

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Oh my heck. I just read your bio. Your kid is finishing second grade.  My youngest is the same age.  Gently, I think you're nuts if you're considering teaching your child speed reading at that age. With my daughter, I'm just letting her read for fun outside of school time. I'm helping her develop a love of books. I'm helping her create mental pictures of what she's reading. We're working on vocabulary of more complex words. She's narrating the occasional plot line to me, and we've talked about characters, setting, etc. But, goodness, there's no way I'd be contemplating speed reading with her.

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2 hours ago, Resilient said:

@mathmarm I can't judge whether it was poorly taught or not.  You had to be a good reader to get into the class, and I was always that.  The thing that it taught me was to acquire words quickly but not to make associations between ideas or follow a thread of an argument.  My husband reads slowly and so does my son--and they GET everything they read.  I read quickly and have to read everything twice to GET it.  

Speed reading also takes away the lingering wallow in a beautifully worded sentence or thought.  

There IS room for learning to SCAN.  Get the general idea, the flow of a thought, which helps in the acquisition of the words and ideas, and probably speeds things up a little bit--sometimes by letting you see that you already know what is in that section so you don't have to read it at all.

Scanning, skimming both have their place in reading.  I'm not convinced about speed-reading.

That's what I observe also.  I am a slow reader, but I remember what I have read (unless it was trash); I can recall a lot of it decades later; and it can make other aspects of literacy and life richer.  I feel like it's better to spend 20 minutes reading something that will make a difference in the future, than 5 minutes reading something that won't stick.

I'm sure there are fast readers who also retain, but I suspect they become fast readers organically by reading.  And not everyone can, and that's OK.

I don't think you need a special program to improve reading speed for a 6 or 7 year old by the time he is in middle/high school.  It is almost guaranteed to happen if he is a reader and has access to books.

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And to be totally opposite - for my girl who is a relatively slow reader - I try to get the audiobooks for books she has to read for school.  She loves stories and has great comprehension.  Why ruin a great book by making it hard and tedious to get through?  It's a relatively slow way to read, but it can be done at times when you wouldn't be reading anyway.

Not that I'm selling this method to everyone, but if someone feels nervous about their kid's reading speed and keeping up with school requirements, I personally feel this is a legitimate solution.

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18 hours ago, prairiewindmomma said:

Oh my heck. I just read your bio. Your kid is finishing second grade.  My youngest is the same age.  Gently, I think you're nuts if you're considering teaching your child speed reading at that age. With my daughter, I'm just letting her read for fun outside of school time. I'm helping her develop a love of books. I'm helping her create mental pictures of what she's reading. We're working on vocabulary of more complex words. She's narrating the occasional plot line to me, and we've talked about characters, setting, etc. But, goodness, there's no way I'd be contemplating speed reading with her.

I say this quite firmly, do not call me names.
I am asking for advice. When I was in elementary school, the best readers were taught Speed Reading around 4th and 5th grade. I wasn't selected/eligible for the program, but I have a 3rd grade student who is a really good reader so I'm just trying to figure things out the best that I can, same as many others on this board.

I do my research and plans 18+ months in advance--that's just who I am. I'm simply exploring and trying to understand options that are available so that Hubby and I can determine the best route for our family. I don't deserve to be mocked or ridiculed and I won't be called names. Sheesh!

 

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My apologies for the colloquial turn of phrase which appears to have given offense. I still hold by my statement that teaching speed reading is largely developmentally inappropriate for elementary aged students.
 

My 8 yo can read at a college level. Of the time that we have together for education, I will see greater benefit teaching her the things I mention in my first post than in teaching her speed reading. Slow readers tend to be slow not because of the visual perception/function end of things (though I had a kid who needed vision therapy so it’s possible), they tend to be slow in the cognitive bundling of information for processing. A child with faster processing will naturally reader faster WPM as they practice. Speed reading, as a technique, is often called bunk science for this reason.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.livescience.com/amp/speed-reading-possible.html

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9 hours ago, mathmarm said:

I say this quite firmly, do not call me names.
I am asking for advice. When I was in elementary school, the best readers were taught Speed Reading around 4th and 5th grade. I wasn't selected/eligible for the program, but I have a 3rd grade student who is a really good reader so I'm just trying to figure things out the best that I can, same as many others on this board.

As much as I think speed reading was terrible for me, I just want you to know I totally understand why you would ask about it. 

 

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6 hours ago, prairiewindmomma said:

My apologies for the colloquial turn of phrase which appears to have given offense. I still hold by my statement that teaching speed reading is largely developmentally inappropriate for elementary aged students.
 

My 8 yo can read at a college level. Of the time that we have together for education, I will see greater benefit teaching her the things I mention in my first post than in teaching her speed reading. Slow readers tend to be slow not because of the visual perception/function end of things (though I had a kid who needed vision therapy so it’s possible), they tend to be slow in the cognitive bundling of information for processing. A child with faster processing will naturally reader faster WPM as they practice. Speed reading, as a technique, is often called bunk science for this reason.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.livescience.com/amp/speed-reading-possible.html

I appreciate that you are saying Speed Reading isn't ideal for elementary age and I'm open to the idea that Public Schools got it wrong and that it's not even a good idea to try and teach it in elementary school--but as you know first hand, being an Ultra Speed Reader, Speed Reading is most definitely possible.

I imagine that you get plenty of use out of it or you wouldn't have gotten to the level of being an Ultra Speed Reader yourself.

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On 6/13/2021 at 8:52 PM, Xahm said:

I'm curious what you mean by speed reading and what your goal is.

Speed Reading, as I understand it, is reading text rapidly without sacrificing comprehension and with the ability to retain/remember what you've read.

My rising 3rd grader reads around 230wpm when reading nonfiction and between 190-230wpm when reading (children's) fiction.

Most days he reads aloud from 3 different types of texts Magazines: (National Geographic/American Science) a "classic" novel that we buddy-read as a family (The Hobbit, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Journey to the Center of the Earth, etc), and Poetry/Speeches.

He also spends 30-90 minutes reading silently to himself each day, depending on what else he wants to do that day.  This year we're doing a Lit based philosophy list and have high hopes for it.

He has been loving word roots and etymology.  Last year we did WordBuild Foundations 1 and 2 within a semester so we got and Vocabulary Cartoons, English from the Roots Up 1 + Rummy Roots last year and he loves them too. We're going with SBSS 7 and 8 this year because we've had strong success with and have enjoyed SbSS2-6.

He knows and understands setting, plot, characters and figurative language, he can ID and discuss each one. He doesn't struggle with visualizing scenes--he can illustrate, retell, act out or describe most any scene that we might ask him to from books. All of that to say he's going into the 3rd grade and he's a highly capable reader and on track to develop into an even more capable reader by the end of 3rd or 4th grade.

I personally was never a highly talented reader when I was young, so all that to say, we are wondering if Speed Reading is a skill that he might be ready for and benefit from in a year or two (around 4th/5th grade, when, in my experience "it's typically taught").

I'm not set on anything, I just assumed Speed Reading was a skill that was still being taught some time between elementary and middle school. My elementary school taught it to the best readers. Hubby's school taught it in 5th and again in 6th (he went to a K-6) so to us, based on our experiences, Speed Reading is just a part of the "typical learning to read" continuum.

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I have a kiddo going into 4th grade who is more than a few grades ahead with her reading. Speed reading is actually the opposite of what I want her to do, because I want her to slow down and think about the new words she's reading, and there are still a LOT of such words. 

Her vocabulary is very advanced, and I think that's partially because she takes the time to learn the new words she's seeing in all the books she reads. So while I can imagine spending time speeding up her reading, I wouldn't do it right now, personally. 

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I had a great experience with learning to speed read in 5th grade.  The skill was taught to the entire class.  We were separated into groups of like ability and challenged.  That year was one of my favorites.  Even though it was only 5th, we switched classrooms for different subjects, and were taught by the best teacher of each subject.  It was a huge elementary school that was fantastic.  My point is that my English teacher was awesome, and the program was done well. 

I did some internet searching, and found this:

https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/vintage-edl-controlled-reader-1754929297

I'm pretty sure it's the machine we used to learn speed reading, with the text moving faster and faster as we got better and better.  We weren't taught to skim.  We were taught to read every word.

My boys and husband are painfully slow readers.  I'm not even sure it would be worth it to try to get them to speed read.

 

So, I guess I'd wait if I were you until late elementary/early middle.

 

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12 hours ago, mathmarm said:

Speed Reading, as I understand it, is reading text rapidly without sacrificing comprehension and with the ability to retain/remember what you've read.

My rising 3rd grader reads around 230wpm when reading nonfiction and between 190-230wpm when reading (children's) fiction.

Most days he reads aloud from 3 different types of texts Magazines: (National Geographic/American Science) a "classic" novel that we buddy-read as a family (The Hobbit, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Journey to the Center of the Earth, etc), and Poetry/Speeches.

He also spends 30-90 minutes reading silently to himself each day, depending on what else he wants to do that day.  This year we're doing a Lit based philosophy list and have high hopes for it.

He has been loving word roots and etymology.  Last year we did WordBuild Foundations 1 and 2 within a semester so we got and Vocabulary Cartoons, English from the Roots Up 1 + Rummy Roots last year and he loves them too. We're going with SBSS 7 and 8 this year because we've had strong success with and have enjoyed SbSS2-6.

He knows and understands setting, plot, characters and figurative language, he can ID and discuss each one. He doesn't struggle with visualizing scenes--he can illustrate, retell, act out or describe most any scene that we might ask him to from books. All of that to say he's going into the 3rd grade and he's a highly capable reader and on track to develop into an even more capable reader by the end of 3rd or 4th grade.

I personally was never a highly talented reader when I was young, so all that to say, we are wondering if Speed Reading is a skill that he might be ready for and benefit from in a year or two (around 4th/5th grade, when, in my experience "it's typically taught").

I'm not set on anything, I just assumed Speed Reading was a skill that was still being taught some time between elementary and middle school. My elementary school taught it to the best readers. Hubby's school taught it in 5th and again in 6th (he went to a K-6) so to us, based on our experiences, Speed Reading is just a part of the "typical learning to read" continuum.

I think it sounds like you are doing a great job. My guess is that teaching speed reading in school was probably a trend that didn't really last, but I presume it comes up from time to time. Because of this thread, I've been thinking about it more. While painfully slow reading is something that should be remediated (and would be addressed by the things you are doing though your son isn't slow), I think that "normal reading" and "speed reading" are just different and mostly quirks of the individual. While my ability to read very quickly has helped me, my husband's normal reading speed hasn't hurt him. We both read lots. I have the advantage that I can take in more in the limited time I have to read. He has a different advantage. Because he spends longer reading a book, he has more time to ruminate on the ideas in it. When my husband and my 8 year old are looking at a page of a children's book, my 8 year old can finish reading first, so I assume she inherited my skill. It's not something I'm going to either encourage or discourage, and I won't even allow her to try any sort of "speed reading" training until she's much older. For one, I don't want her to think that reading unusually quickly is the goal. It's really not, at least not for us.

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I was taught how to skim a textbook for important information and to speed read in fifth grade.  (It's the only thing I remember from that year.)  Probably the single best thing I learned in elementary school besides how to read.

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It almost sounds like you can't choose to speed read or not, and it just happens?

I was thinking of learning to speed read for my own purposes--I have to read a lot of material in my field and I just want to be able to get through it faster.

 

But would you say that it's detrimental to learn it @Clarita and @Resilient since it seems that you can't "toggle" between speed reading and normal reading at will?

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4 hours ago, mom2bee said:

But would you say that it's detrimental to learn it @Clarita and @Resilient since it seems that you can't "toggle" between speed reading and normal reading at will?

I would say for me it's just become a habit. So, I can focus on reading and in a way toggle off the speed reading, however that takes so much effort for me that I will end up reading slower than a slow reader. Having read other response to speed reading, I think it was taught at too early an age for me. Whether it was maturity or whether it was reading skill related.

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@mom2bee It was a REALLY long time ago, so take all of this with a grain of salt.  I don't recall being told that there are different ways of reading. Maybe I was absent that day.  Since it was the Good Readers who were selected for the Speed Reading classes, I assumed that speed reading was the best way for everything and that only really good readers could do it.  It became a point of pride to read fast.  That's not necessarily a good thing.  

 

 

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Yeah, going back 41 years in both time and technology ...

What was used for us was some sort of lighted screen that would flash line after line of text at whatever speed it was set at.

The only "skill" I remember from it was that you're supposed to use peripheral vision rather than move you eyes from word to word.  So you take in more and more words per glance or whatever you want to call it.  In reading this line I just wrote, you would rest your eyes at just 2 or 3 spots, whereas many readers would rest their eyes at ever 3rd word or so.  [I would note that this is something you could do at home without any special materials.  Just find any reading materials with the text organized in columns and try to read down the column with as few visual hits as possible.]

The content of my "course" was super shallow, so no thought was needed, just word recognition.  According to the stats, I increased my reading speed exponentially in two or three sessions.  And then it stopped increasing.  It was not fun or worthwhile, and I may have been limited by vision issues and mild dyslexic challenges that run in my family.

By that time, I was 13 and had been an engaged reader (and writer) for at least 8 or 9 years.  I was that kid to whom the teacher gave books just because I was likely to enjoy them.  I don't see the point of a person like that increasing reading speed.  I could see the point for kids who struggle to finish the basic reading requirements of school / life - or I could at least see experimenting to find out if they could be helped.  Though, then, there might be a concern that vocabulary etc. might be too limiting.

There is a supplemental reading course that is marketed to parents of middle and high school kids, and it claims to increase reading speed, among other things.  My kids took it one year.  I don't believe it did anything for their reading speed.

Generally, I think a good reader will adjust his own reading speed to what he's getting out of the material.  A Harry Potter book will be fast-paced because it's high interest but not very deep.  Much of the Bible will be slow-paced because there is just so much to dissect in there.  An Austen will be moderately quick if the reader likes romance; it will never be finished if the reader despises such topics.  A Dickens will be slower than an Austen because the language is richer and the social commentary is deeper/darker.

If I take 3x as long to read a Dickens, does that mean I'm not as good of a reader?  Does it matter?

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On 6/14/2021 at 10:41 PM, mathmarm said:

 

Thanks for the feedback!

 

Thanks! I was never selected for the Speed Reading course at my elementary school--you had to be at a certain level of reading fluency and I never did well enough on those tests. I didn't do the Speed Reading course summer before middle school because of a schedule conflict.

I remember being bogged down in the reading requirements for 7th-9th grade for sure. It was terrible. I was a steady, but not particularly fast reader. I knew other kids who'd been through a Speed Reading program and they all seemed to benefit from it greatly especially in High school.

 

Given what you've described of your own experience (do you think your dc's situation is similar?), maybe working on RAN/RAS would be a better starting place. https://www.dropbox.com/sh/4rcl6f0uo70esmv/AAAaGAHw3_YTMEQZSw_WI-t_a?dl=0  Here's a link to my RAN/RAS files. Print, pop in page protectors, and read the rapidly aloud. Good RAN/RAS (rapid naming) is highly correlated with strong readers and poor RAN/RAS/rapid naming is a common lagging deficit in dyslexia and reading disability. So it's something free and easy to work on to improve reading speed.

Also, I think that a middle or high school "speed reading course" might not be what adults call speed reading. https://www.understood.org/articles/en/why-isnt-my-child-reading-fast-enough  I would be very concerned about working on speed and aggravating other issues (decoding weaknesses, poor visual tracking or convergence, etc.) that were the actual underlying causes of the poor reading speed. Reading speed naturally increases as one reads more. Vision therapy can also increase reading speed simply by improving how well the eyes work together and process visual information.

So I would be most inclined to:

-work on RAN/RAS

-get the eyes checked by a developmental optometrist

-make sure decoding is strong

-provide more opportunity/incentive to read more

 

 

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On 6/20/2021 at 7:47 PM, mom2bee said:

But would you say that it's detrimental to learn it @Clarita and @Resilient since it seems that you can't "toggle" between speed reading and normal reading at will?

I had a friend in college who was a tremendous reader, and she would read a book a night *on top* of her regular assigned/class reading for her masters in english, lol. For her, it was clearly FUN.

Me, I would just turn it on and off, like you say, going into a really focused mode to plow through material. 

I also know people who struggle to read even with "speed reading" classes. Probably should have been diagnosed dyslexic. 

So if you don't deal with the root cause of the slow reading, you're still a slow reader, seems to me.

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On 6/23/2021 at 11:20 AM, SKL said:

If I take 3x as long to read a Dickens, does that mean I'm not as good of a reader?  Does it matter?

Well it matters if it's part of your job to get through material. It's actually a serious disability in certain situations.

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2 hours ago, PeterPan said:

Well it matters if it's part of your job to get through material. It's actually a serious disability in certain situations.

The OP wasn't talking about kids with disability though.  I did mention audiobooks upthread for those who can't read fast enough.

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15 hours ago, PeterPan said:

Given what you've described of your own experience (do you think your dc's situation is similar?), maybe working on RAN/RAS would be a better starting place. https://www.dropbox.com/sh/4rcl6f0uo70esmv/AAAaGAHw3_YTMEQZSw_WI-t_a?dl=0  Here's a link to my RAN/RAS files. Print, pop in page protectors, and read the rapidly aloud. Good RAN/RAS (rapid naming) is highly correlated with strong readers and poor RAN/RAS/rapid naming is a common lagging deficit in dyslexia and reading disability. So it's something free and easy to work on to improve reading speed.

Also, I think that a middle or high school "speed reading course" might not be what adults call speed reading. https://www.understood.org/articles/en/why-isnt-my-child-reading-fast-enough  I would be very concerned about working on speed and aggravating other issues (decoding weaknesses, poor visual tracking or convergence, etc.) that were the actual underlying causes of the poor reading speed. Reading speed naturally increases as one reads more. Vision therapy can also increase reading speed simply by improving how well the eyes work together and process visual information.

So I would be most inclined to:

-work on RAN/RAS

-get the eyes checked by a developmental optometrist

-make sure decoding is strong

-provide more opportunity/incentive to read more

 

 

Thank you for taking the time to write all this out and for sharing some guide lines.

I'm clueless about the RAN/RAS stuff. I'm sorry, I have to admit that I have no idea what you are talking about with the RAN/RAS stuff. I don't understand what it is, what it's for or what the purpose might be. My child has finished 2nd grade, he can recognize (and name) his colors and numbers quite fluently.

We've never pursued vision therapy--I really don't think he needs it. What is Vision Therapy for? and how do you determine if your child might benefit from Vision Therapy?

His decoding is rock-solid and fluent and he reads everyday as a part of his schooling as well as for leisure (though not always his first choice of activity if there is something physical or buildable around).

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On 6/15/2021 at 1:49 PM, Not_a_Number said:

What is one supposed to do instead of saying the words in your head, though? I’m not sure what that would even feel like...

I see the words as a page (or, later, two pages if both were visible) of text, and the text pretty much goes in one line or one short paragraph at a time. Which was great until I had to say what I was reading (since, like everyone else, I can only speak one phoneme at a time...)

My secondary school had a speed-reading class, but the requirement was to be below a certain reading speed, so I never qualified. I think it was aimed at teaching techniques to get the gist of an exam question quickly, to avoid situations where the entire question was missed due to being daunted at the amount of reading involved under time pressure.

Edited by ieta_cassiopeia
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