I’m afraid I have a seven and half year old speed reader on my hands. In fact, I think he might be worse than a speed reader: he might be a skimmer.
You know the kind – the kind like me. The ones that read the questions first and the comprehension passage later. The ones that instinctively skim the passage because they know all they have to do is answer the questions anyway. No sense getting attached to the characters in the story.
Is that necessarily a bad thing?
When I noticed my son was doing this with his reader, I was troubled. He wasn’t doing a careful reading of the passage, I instinctively thought. He needed to read it, understand it and then answer the questions.
He wasn’t paying attention the way he was supposed to. He wasn’t doing what the workbook was designed for.
But wait, I said. What if he was doing just that – differently?
Kids Know How to Hack Learning
And they know it almost as well as we do, perhaps better. Allow me to explain. Think back to the last time you wanted to learn something – say it was a research study on how something affects your body. What did you do?
Did you read the entire study carefully from beginning to end, word by word, or did you quickly look up the one very specific thing you were looking for? Didn’t you go back over it only if you needed to? If something didn’t make sense or if something seemed odd?
Weren’t you then just skimming too?
What I’m trying to get to is that skimming too is a form of reading. It’s a form of learning. Not all books need a close, word by word reading. Skimming or speed reading is not something to worry too much about.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. – Francis Bacon
Some Books Just Need to be Tasted
If you are concerned about the reading habits of your child or want him to read deeper, here’s a trick: instead of answering the comprehension questions at the bottom of the passage, have him narrate what he just read to you.
But do remember that you might not want to teach skimming out of the child completely. It’s a habit that will likely come in handy as he grows.
Skimming is a skill, after all, in focusing on what is most important, ignoring what’s not and eliminating distractions.