Chewing gum can improve your child’s reading speed

In my last article I touched on what subvocalisation is and how it affects the reading speed. Now, it’s time to look at the ways to improve reading speed. 

If subvocalisation is the cause for low read performance around 150-250 wpm then surely the solution to the problem would be to reduce the impact of subvocalisation or minimise subvocalisation itself.

First things first, if you have forgotten what subvocalisation is then it is a habit wherein you say the word in your head while reading. The side effect of this approach is that your reading speed is limited by the speed at which you can say the words, also called the talking speed.

Most people read at 200-250 wpm but you need to be reading at least at 450 wpm to stay competitive in this age of information. 

Let’s look at some of the ways you can teach your child to improve reading

  1. Chewing gum – the idea is to distract your mouth and brain from saying the words. Chewing gum can help trick the brain into thinking that mouth is busy doing something else so skips the auditory reassurance. 
  2. Use your finger as a guide while reading – practice to put the finger on the word after the word you are reading and then let your eyes chase the finger as you read. Slowly start to increase the speed at which you move the finger.
  3. Be conscious of your breathing – the trick is to occupy your brain in doing something other than trying to say the words in your head. 
  4. Use peripheral vision – to read the words before and after the word you focus on. This is harder than it sounds and takes time to master but once you get the grip of it, it takes your reading to a whole new level. Imagine looking at just two words in a line but reading the whole line. 
  5. Force yourself – to read at higher speed than your current speed. Set a timer and try to break your record wpm. 
  6. Eliminate the fear – from your head that you may not be able to comprehend what you read faster. 
  7. Stop re-reading text – re-reading trains your mind to read with additional care and thus falls back to the “say words in the head” approach. 

In my next post, we will look at some of the tools that we can use to help with improving the reading speed.

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