Speed training can also be referred to as ‘brain training’ or ‘fluency training’. The premise is the same.
Many literacy experts believe that the development of fluency skills is critical to train the dyslexic brain to read more like a non-dyslexic brain. Once your child is starting to read, it is important to develop their rate of fluency and encourage the memorisation of words. This is the speed at which they read with relative accuracy, while gaining meaning from the text. This is a brain training skill and as for any skill we learn and excel at, it needs to be practised regularly in order improve.
Hearing your children read familiar texts aloud regularly in a supportive environment is the key to increasing their rate of fluency and improving their memory. To read fluently, the brain needs to respond automatically to the words on the page. The child with dyslexia can often achieve this through the process of over-learning.
This is a similar method to the way Olympic athletes train for an event. When your child consistently runs down the soccer field successfully dribbling the soccer ball or shoots the perfect goal on the netball court, they do so because they have practised. The same philosophy needs to be applied to oral reading fluency. Oral reading, where your child reads to you aloud, is the key because this reinforces visual and audio neural pathways within your child’s brain.
Speed Reading Tips
1. Try to practise for fluency every day, every month of every year for approximately 10 minutes.
2. Carefully choose a piece of text or a list of words or a combination of both that is easy for your child to read. There should be no more than around one error for every twenty words or so. Sometimes I even include numbers and algorithms for added variation. Use the same speed training exercise five days in a row and record the time taken on a graph or even on your mobile phone. This will help the words and numbers within the text to become ingrained in their brain’s automatic word form system. It will also help them to end up in their long-term memory for future reference and recall.
3. It is important for children to complete this activity in a private setting without distractions and to only compete against themselves. It’s about ‘their’ reading, not how they compare to others. They will not do so well with an audience. If they make an error, repeat the word for them correctly and ensure that they read it again correctly after you. You will be surprised how much your child will enjoy this activity. It is over and done with in about 10 minutes; they will experience success and see their progress before their own eyes.
4. Increase the difficulty of the speed training exercises over time and watch your child’s progress. Choose subject matter that is interesting and relevant to your student. Using humour, song lyrics and poems is also a good idea.
This is an activity that all parents and teachers can master, as they help their children and their students to improve their fluency and confidence levels.