In well-informed educational settings, teachers and students take turns reading aloud from a carefully chosen book while others silently follow along. New vocabulary is introduced and discussed, allowing students to focus on comprehending and engaging with text. The teacher models phrasing, fluency, and maintains a consistent, positive approach to error detection and correction. Pace is also an incredibly important variable.
So, what's the rush?
Consider this comparison: SpellRead's program features speed-read packs with pseudo words and syllables reflecting vowels and consonants of a student's current lesson. For these packs, time and accuracy are critical and one cannot "beat" a pack without both. Ultimately, however, accuracy trumps speed; students won't move on to the next pack with a quick time but several errors.
Reading an article, book, or story follows the same suit: a faster tempo can be positive as long as the reader hasn't sacrificed correctness or comprehension.
Here are three reasons why a student might feel compelled to hurry, and tips to help slow down the process!
REASON #1: PRESSURE
The pressure to perform perfectly or read quickly can weigh heavy on a child, whether this personal push comes from a feeling of inadequacy ("the other students are faster"), an external pressure ("I think my Mom/Dad/teacher wants me to be quicker), or a learning challenge (dyslexia, etc.). The fear of failure could be intimidating enough that students charge through pages, skipping words, lines, and concepts, without the ability to properly absorb the text.
- Remind your child or student that they are supported and encouraged! You want them to feel positive about reading, not dispirited.
- Mix up content. Alternate longer reading tasks (e.g. chapter books or assigned homework) with fun, shorter text. Browse and download articles from Newsela, which offers a variety of topics and subscription options for a range of reading levels.
- Play a word board game, like Scrabble Junior, pairing your child or student with someone older or more advanced.
REASON #2: BOREDOM
The Owl Teacher suggests that a text's level or theme could cause haste. "Is your student rushing through the work because he is challenged by it or bored with it? Some students, such as [those] with ADHD, rush because the thoughts move so quickly in their mind that they need to put down their answer before they lose their train of thought." Furthermore, students may zip through text because it feels "too easy" or they find the subject matter uninteresting.
- For extracurricular reading, choose captivating material tailored to the child's interests. In life, they won't always get to read what they want, but find openings for compromise. If they require a more advanced text, pick a story highlighting a favourite thing—like hockey, Halloween, or hippopotami! Just be mindful of the balance between challenging and tough.
- If their age-level books feel too strenuous, scale back a bit so they conquer "easier" text, which could improve confidence, sight word automaticity, and reinforce fundamental skills.
REASON #3: "WINNING"
For many readers (adults included!), it's tempting to hurry through text and leap to the final pages, itching to learn how it ends. Speed certainly allows us to finish faster, but at what cost? The Owl Teacher explains that an individual may want "to feel smart... and by being the first one done, that helps accomplish that for him." In the classic fable, The Tortoise and the Hare, pace becomes paramount, and we learn that moving slowly but steadily leads to success.
- Lead by example. Take turns reading paragraphs or pages, and maintain a reasonable reading speed so they emulate your pace.
- Add an action where you both stop reading at unknown or longer (multisyllabic) words to analyze sounds; this causes readers to pause and contemplate.
- Write these words on a separate piece of colourful stationery, which will become the book's running vocabulary list. At the end of reading time, you can look up meanings together online or in a physical dictionary!
Reading should be a marathon, not a sprint. A child or student will get the most out of literature when they incorporate time, tools, and techniques to truly and fully understand text. Your bookworm should inch along at his or her most productive speed, so trust the turtle: precision and perseverance matter more than urgency.
At Halifax Learning, we use the Gray Oral Reading Test—Fifth Edition (GORT–5) measure reading fluency and reading comprehension.
GORT–5 is one of the most widely used measures of oral reading fluency and comprehension in the United States. The GORT–5 has two equivalent forms: Form A and Form B. Each form contains 16 developmentally sequenced reading passages with five comprehension questions each. —Pearson
It doesn't take an expert in reading instruction to predict rushing as a symptom of a struggling reader. It does require expertise to remediate the systemic effects of poor reading instruction. SpellRead is a marathon that trains the most important muscle in our bodies—the brain—to complete and win the marathon!
Library of Congress Aesop Fables: http://read.gov/aesop/025.html
The Owl Teacher: https://theowlteacher.com/