Updated: Apr 17, 2021
When we first learned about speed reading, it didn't seem possible that children could read so quickly--and retain the information. In the early 90's we saw videos of Japanese children writing down paragraphs of information after just one flash of a book. It was awesome! So, we started experimenting in our small school setting. Did we achieve the same results? Sadly, no. Not at first.
We flashed pages of books to children in our preschool… and they didn't like it. They did not want to play the "games" or learn how to speed read. But we didn't give up.
We stopped to regroup, and we found a gentler way.
These valuable lessons resulted in nurturing strong speed readers who are also passionate slow-readers--a beautiful combination of right-brain and left-brain learning. We are happy to share with you 9 simple gems that we discovered…
EARLY READING IS KEY Flash a poster full of pictures to a classroom of 2nd graders and, with practice, they can recall everything at one glance. But, show the same poster full of WORDS, and you will receive varied results. Children who have started to learn to read in kindergarten or 1st grade will recall only a few words. Children who have learned to read earlier, using an infant/toddler or preschool reading program, will see the words as pictures and recall them quite quickly. That's why, if you want to teach speed reading in a gentle way, it has to begin early so that you can gradually build upon a firm foundation of literacy.
EASY DOES IT If you want to teach speed reading, you need to do so in steps and stages. Children like building up from words, then phrases, then sentences, and so on, at a gentle pace. They like to speed read large print and then graduate to a reduced font size as their reading skills increase. They like to play preparation games first. They also like to play more with pictures, than with words. When you know how to approach speed reading, children actually love the lesson and look forward to more.
ALPHA RELAXATION Before you begin, it's important to learn how to give a short, guided alpha relaxation meditation. This calms and centers your child and awakens the mind for a different pace of learning. We do it with breathing exercises and music. (Some of the music we use is on our web site, but you can also use soft classical music or anything that makes you feel calm when listening to it.)
MOVE YOUR EYES Eye exercises are important. You can play games to strengthen eye scanning speed and to widen peripheral vision. A simple way to get started is to invite your child to move their eyes back and forth with you--from far right to far left. Then, up and down.
BE A CAMERA Yes, you can actually train your child's eyes to function like a camera! PhotoEyeplay is a technique we use in our Wink program to do just that. It involves creating an "after-image", or negative, of any original image. Children who do this and then look at a white piece of paper (or close their eyes), will see the negative image flash for a moment. Over time, and with practice with PhotoEyeplay cards or simple cut-out shapes that you can make yourself, your child will be able to see the after-image for longer periods of time, developing strong photographic intake.
IMAGINE Is your child a daydreamer? Storyteller? Lost in the clouds? It's a good thing! When children pretend or imagine, they are powering up the right brain. Encouraging children to stay playful and imaginative far beyond preschool is vital for invention and creativity. This same ability impacts the ability to visualize and memorize word shapes when speed reading. That's why, in our classes over the years, the best speed readers have been children who have been labeled as ADD, ADHD, dyslexic or otherwise "learning impaired." Were they REALLY learning impaired? Not at all. They were just using a different side of their brain--one which our schools have yet to embrace and utilize effectively.
OBSERVE MORE You will find greater results when you combine fast flashcard play with slow games. Simply put: stop and smell the roses. We realized that years of flashing, flashing, and flashing information and memory cards, didn't leave a lot of time for enjoyment. It was like training children to gobble down a meal, without TASTING. So, we added games that encouraged observation. Observation training turned our program around, and will help you, too. Why? Because the more you encourage your child to slow down and really look at details of what it is he is learning, the more your child will see and enjoy. The more he sees and enjoys, the more he will remember--with BOTH sides of his brain.
MEMORY PLAY Also, please learn from our mistakes and avoid introducing memory exercises too early. Because we had classrooms of children exposed to our method, we could see children bridging over to left-brain thinking very early. At first, it was exciting, because they were more linguistic and logical. But they could not imagine well, their creativity was low, their demeanor was serious, and in the end they had trouble speed reading. Only through relaxing and encouraging more play and creativity could we "right" our "wrong." So, our advice to you is: introduce memory games as your child reaches a certain stage - the TweedleWink Preschool Stage - when he is able to match, sit down to learn for at least 5 minutes, and most importantly, like the games that you present. Once your child is ready--and willing--to play memory games, then you can introduce flash memory games, sequential memory games, and more! Waiting for the right moment ensures that your child will enjoy the lessons, recall more, and the right-brain pathway will stay open, actively linking to the left brain for a holistic synergy that can knock your socks off!
LOVE FOR SLOW READING Last, and certainly not least, it is important to share your passion for books. Slow reading is just as important as speed reading. Speed reading is a tool to use to quickly glean information. And it is only one side of the coin. Slow reading is about enjoyment. It brings much happiness into your life. When your child is passionate and loves to read, then he will actively seek enlightenment in a book. YES - enlightenment! Children evolve with each book that they read. With each new idea. This accelerates their mental and emotional development in leaps and bounds. So, how do we--as parents and teachers--instill a love for reading? One book at a time. Begin in the early years by reading with your child. Go to libraries and encourage the constant search for the next great story. At home, make sure your child is surrounded by books--create a small library or at least a reading corner where books are always available. We try to make sure that the books are age-appropriate, but also include a few books that are past their current reading level so that they have levels to choose from--they just might surprise you! Children who have been in our program since infancy--and are now speed reading in elementary, middle school, high school, and even college--frankly do not see themselves as "speed readers." They don't even think about it. They read quickly. They learn quickly. They just "are" this way--and enjoy life because of it.