By Teachers, For Teachers
For some early readers, reading can feel like a race. They think that the faster they read, the better the reader they are. However, a child who is reading too fast is missing out on a lot. They often skip words, don’t remember key elements in the story, and ignore punctuation. It’s important for children to read at a good pace so that they can read the text accurately and really comprehend what they are reading.
Here are a few teacher-tested teaching strategies to help you slow down those students who are reading too fast.
Start by asking the student to listen closely as you read a few sentences in a normal pace, making sure that you hit all the punctuation in the right places. Then reread the same sentences, but this time read it much faster and skip over all of the punctuation. Each time you read, ask the student which version they liked better and why. Ask them if one was easier to understand then the other. This is an easy way for students to grasp the concept that reading fast is not better, and that it’s actually harder to understand.
Another great way to get students to slow down when they read is to record them when they are reading fast. You can also record them when they read at a normal pace, too, to help them hear the difference in themselves. As the student listens to themselves on the tape, point out if they skipped the punctuation or if they remembered to pause or use expression. Also, have them listen to the speed and tone of their voice as well.
A physical reminder, like a ruler, is a great way for students to not only slow down when they are reading but it’s also a great tool to help them keep their place as well. Have the student place a ruler under each sentence as they read it. By using a physical reminder like a ruler, or a piece of paper, it will visually help the student remember to slow down while they are reading.
Sometimes all students need is a code phrase or a signal to remind them to slow down as they read. Come up with something together like signing the word “Slow” when you hear them reading too fast, or saying the word “Turtle” to remind them that they should be reading slowly like a turtle.
If you notice that the student is reading too fast when they have to read a lot of text, then shorten the amount of text that they have to read. For example, having the student read just a few sentences at a good pace will increase their confidence. Praise the child for reading at a good pace, then as they get better, you can increase the amount that they read to a paragraph then two paragraphs and so on.
Buddy reading is another great way to get students to slow down when they are fast readers. Pair up your really great readers up with your struggling readers, so that the students who are reading too fast can see how it should sound at a regular pace. You can also take turns buddy reading with your students while in your reading groups too.
Some students are kinesthetic learners and learn best when they are using their bodies. Another trick you can use for these types of students is to have them tap their finder on any punctuation that they come across. This physical, kinesthetic movement will help them to remember to slow down and pause every time they see a punctuation at the end of a sentence.
While it may be challenging for your students to read at the right pace, these strategies can help them to slow down. The key is to constantly remind them that they are not in a race and to never treat reading as though it is.
Do any of your students read too fast? If so, what kind of teaching strategies are you using to help them slow down? Please share your comments and experiences in the section below, we would love to hear what works for you and your students.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds masters of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.