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.