Speed Reading and True Comprehension

Preparing our homeschool students for later life will include training them in a variety of skills in addition to teaching the basic core subjects in an educational sense. If we can look at the process of education a bit differently, which homeschoolers have typically had no problem doing, this daunting task will not be so difficult and as a result, we will produce highly effective students who can become highly effective citizens of the future. One such tool to educate a bit differently is speed reading. While this skill tends to be thought of as only a tool for processing reading material a bit faster, there is much more to this skill when it is used correctly and effectively.

There is a wealth of information coming at us on a daily basis. More than we can process in most cases. The challenge for adults, and one that we want to prepare our students for as homeschoolers, is the challenge of knowing what information to spend time on, what is important, and how to review, assess, and apply it with ease. Sound overwhelming? It shouldn’t. Every homeschool program should include a course in speed reading in order to help their students learn this skill set, and with it, education can be done with much more efficiency.

This critical tool, when done right, will teach students not only how to move through information faster, but also strategies on how to retain information longer. The method to do this involves how we look at the words on the page. True speed reading teaches the student to look at the words differently and allows the brain to engage with the words in picture form – something that God designed our brains to do very efficiently. Think of your strongest memories, your most meaningful lessons, and the most engaging homeschool course you ever taught or learned. Chances are a visual image came to mind. You “saw” the learning or the place where it happened, because that is our natural learning pattern. Our brains are wired to work that way, and when we teach students to use their brains this way for reading and comprehension, new worlds of information become possible. Effective speed reading will also include strategies on how to quickly review the meaningful from the trivial, another highly valuable discrimination tool.

Here’s an example of how this tool has been used recently in the media. Regardless of your opinion on the recent Health Care legislation that has just passed into our president’s hands, you might have missed an important element of the bill. On a Fox News show, hosted by Neil Cavuto, Mr. Cavuto had Howard Berg, the “World’s Fastest Reader” on his show to speed read the 1500-page health care bill in its proposed form. Mr. Berg was able to speed read the entire bill and discover some interesting components of the bill, such as provision for Pell Grants, during the live broadcast. While we don’t have to become as fast a reader as Mr. Berg, the question becomes why wouldn’t we want to know more of the world around us in order to be more informed, and why wouldn’t we want to give our children this skill?

If your homeschool program does not include a course in speed reading, consider adding it. Most readers, even as young as 5th or 6thgrade, can begin to learn this skill as long as their basic reading foundation is solid. By teaching this skill as early as possible in your homeschool program, and then continuing with the regular use of it, you will not only equip your children with a valuable educational tool, but you will also equip them with a valuable life-skills tool. Who knows, you might find it highly useful yourself!


Mrs. Camille Rodriquez is a wife and mother, with experience as a pastor's wife for more than a decade and as a homeschool mom for almost 20 years. Visit her website at National Homeschool Academy.

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5 Responses to “Speed Reading and True Comprehension”

  1. Jeri – I use the same program that I teach to adults and students. It’s called “Ultimate Reading Advantage” and I’m a certifed instructor in it. Howard Berg, the Guiness Book of World Records Record-holder at 25,000 words per minute, is the one who taught me, and I teach his methods. Feel free to email me directly if you want to know more – Blessings!

  2. Good points. What speed reading program do you like the best? I tried EyeQ and really liked it.
    Jeri Graybill´s last [type] ..Reading Activities- who knew that clapping hands could help

  3. avatar Camille says:

    Joslyn,

    I can only speak for the program that I use and believe in, but one of the fundamental aspects of a good speed reading program is to also increase comprehension of the material. “Speed” is only a byproduct in a sense. It’s much like mowing the grass – you can use a pushmower or a riding lawnmower, but the grass still has to be cut. Reading happens in every school setting – homeschools, public schools, private schools – or at least I hope it does! Every reader, even adults, can benefit from doing their reading more efficiently (such as mowing with a riding mower) AND still getting the job done. Speed will pick up, residually, if the reader is doing the comprehension and drill exercises to be a more efficient reader in every way.

    Hope that helps!

  4. avatar Joslyn says:

    I am not so sure that children would benefit from speed reading in home schooling or public schools. It seems to me that they would lose some comprehension of the text.

  5. avatar Jade says:

    I home school my 2 kids, but the thought never occurred to me to teach them speed reading until I read your article. Thank you for inspiring me. I and introduce something that may make other lessons easier.