Slower readers need to spend more time and effort to read and learn. Given that the medium of instruction is English in primary schools syllabus, slow readers face a great disadvantage in most of their primary school subjects.
For example, a math genius will not be able to answer the simplest of math questions if he or she does not have the ability to read English.
Being able to read quickly and understand easily helps your child instill a new passion for learning. I’ve received regular compliments from parents who shared that their child’s desire to read went up after attending just a few months of English tuition sessions with me. Their children progressed steadily from browsing comic books and story books to reading newspapers and textbooks after gaining this precious, essential skill to read fast.
Neglecting this skill also means that your child’s learning pace is severely impeded. Slow readers generally tend to spend too much time deciphering the text, often at the expense of answering questions. Hence, do not be in such high spirits when you find your child spending more than 5 hours a day studying while a fast reader could have done the same in less than 1 hour. As a longtime educator, I know how hard it is to sit your child down to study, especially at this stage of their childhood. Ultimately, honing their reading skills is the only way to go.
Here are some of my proven methods you could use to help your child read way faster
Your child could use a pointer. Normally, when a reader’s eye twitches away, it must relocate to its previous position. Unfortunately, when you read, this position is constantly moving. This problem is even more pronounced when it comes to a child being easily distracted. Lacking a pointer causes your child to slow down as they must constantly search for the current reading position. The easiest pointer your child can use is just the tip of their finger. Simply place his or her index finger below a line of text and move it as he or she reads. Initially, using a pointer will be slower than regular reading. But after your child is used to the motion, he or she can read more effectively.
Your child could stop vocalizing his or her reading content eventually. When primary school students first learn to read, they read the words aloud. “Mary had a little lamb,” each word is being pronounced earnestly by the young student. Eventually, they will graduate from speaking aloud because it slows their reading speed. What your children need to do is to move on to subvocalization, which is to still vocalize the words inside their head without using their mouths. This will still help them understand and follow a narrative more naturally without wasting time and effort speaking out every word they see.
Most primary school students read passively, that is, they read a book because they are told to, or more often times, forced to. Speed reading requires active reading. That means, your child must become more inquisitive when reading. Before your child starts reading, help them prime their minds by asking what they are hoping to get out of their reading session. Therefore, they would have a better purpose in reading. Even if you or your child is not 100% sure of what he or she will learn, this priming exercise allows your child’s brain to notice relevant details more quickly. Active reading also makes your child remember better what he or she has read, because active reading engages their minds with better imaging and mental reverberation compared to passive reading.
Lastly, reading quickly with good comprehension requires focus and concentration. This is even more pertinent for a primary school student. Minimize external distractions, interruptions and noise when your child is reading. If you notice that your child is fantasizing about his or her next meal rather than focusing on the text, gently bring his or her mind back to the material. A case in point: many primary school students read a few sentences passively, without focus, then spend time going back to re-read and make sure that they understand them. This bad habit is called regression. Regression is just another form of distraction. Regression will significantly slow your child down and make it harder for him or her to get a big picture of the text.
Reading faster = learning faster = studying more effectively = greater academic success. Many, if not most English teachers forgo this very important part of teaching English. Most of them are too focused on delivering the school syllabus but not developing essential skills like reading skills for your child to succeed in school. Let’s put it this way, the syllabus and teaching contents are important, but isn’t it perfect if they go hand-in-hand with the delivery of intelligent learning techniques to maximize learning efficiency? It will definitely be much better to form such positive habits from early childhood before getting stuck to a daily routine of reading slowly that is sure to jeopardize his or her entire journey of academic endeavors and performance.
Feedback from parents and students:
Mrs Lily Chan (Mother of Charlene Chan, P1): I am so thankful that my child improved from a slow reader to a fast reader. Now, though she is in P1, she is already reading P2 books.
Mr David Sim (Father of Keith Sim, P4): My son has done very well for all his subjects, because his English foundation is very strong, thanks to the effective reading strategies he learned.
Daniel Tan, P5: I used to hate reading, because I was slow and inefficient. I used to do badly for my English exams, especially comprehension because it was always a huge challenge for me to read and understand the whole passage. Time would always run out before I could answer all the questions. Learning the powerful reading techniques has boosted my confidence greatly. I no longer fear comprehension. Instead, comprehension is now my strongest area.
Alysia Lim, S1: I would not have scored 265 for PSLE if not for the ‘turbo speed reading’ and studying tips that I used in the last few months leading to my PSLE.
I sincerely hope that the few tips shared above will help your child improve their reading speed.
For enquiries about our quality English tuition, please contact The Useful English Tutor at 9747-0937.