Everything I’m about to say will seem ridiculously absurd to a lot of people, especially those in education who honestly aren’t that smart (or educated). Home educators have a decided advantage since they are not interested in a ‘percentage’ of students graduating from home college and life ready. For most homeschool families it’s 100%…we just aim for every student to succeed.
Half of Florida’s high school grads can’t read at grade level
The Literacy Project Foundation says…
- In a study of literacy among 20 ‘high income’ countries; US ranked 12th
- Illiteracy has become such a serious problem in our country that 44 million adults are now unable to read a simple story to their children
- 50% of adults cannot read a book written at an eighth grade level
- 45 million are functionally illiterate and read below a 5th grade level
- 44% of the American adults do not read a book in a year
- 6 out of 10 households do not buy a single book in a year
Even if these statistics are dated, we know that things aren’t any better. The simple fact is that educators either don’t know what they are doing OR they are unable to do what they need to do because of the constraints in the system.
My simple premise as an educator and the father of 5 Fine Readers is that we have missed the point that COMPREHENSION is actually all that matters. Take a moment and ponder: Does it really matter how fast or slow your child reads if she can’t understand the content?
THERE ARE 3 IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT SLOW READERS
[Slow readers are just readers who are subject to the same bits of reality we all must face]
1. Reading Speed is Limited (no matter what)
2. Comprehension Speed is the REAL Issue
3. Once the Brain is ‘Hooked Up Right’ – Comprehension is a Breeze
Reading Speed is Limited (no matter what)
Having taken over 1/2 dozen speed-reading courses, I can assure you that actual speeds are limited by physiology. Just like talking has limits that run a range between fast-and-slow talkers. You can take a course in talking faster (I guess), but the REAL ISSUE is what you say 😉 This is the same game with speed-reading; as speeds increase then comprehension will diminish. At one time I tested out at 1600 words a minute with an 80% comprehension rate…which means I would barely make a “B” four times faster. Here’s a good explanation if you want to learn more: http://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2015/01/19/speed-reading-redo/
Comprehension Speed is the REAL Issue
The honest issue is comprehension speed. If your child is reading slow it is most likely because he is not understanding what he is reading. That’s where reading things over-and-over comes in to the story. Plus, vocabulary, reading way too slowly, learning challenges, lack of focus, etc., come into play. The real focus every home educator should have (and public/private educator as well) is, “Do you understand what you are reading?” If they don’t understand it, then they are just swooshing their eyes over the words.
Once the Brain is ‘Hooked Up Right’ – Comprehension is a Breeze
While we all have an instinct for language, it is rather easy to not understand what’s going on. Haven’t you misunderstood someone’s point (or a joke’s punchline) before? The reason we often miss these things is that we have some other story line bumping along in our heads. We mistake words and then create some other story about what was said. Usually this is about poor habits or skills in putting together the information.
We have found that there are Three Stages in Comprehension:
1. The Pieces of Information
2. The Connections Between the Pieces of Information
3. The Logic of How the Pieces Fit Together as a Whole
Our Mastering Reading Course (see above menu) provides a very specific series of exercises designed to “Hook Up” almost anyone’s brain for reading. Frankly, it is exactly what happens naturally when a fine reader develops.
WHAT TO DO
Outside of our comprehensive approach to learning how to Understand without having to Read Every Word (crazy idea, huh?). The best place to start is with these simple steps:
1. Have your student read to you out loud for 10 minutes
2. Ask your student to explain what she read in her own words
3. If it isn’t clear and detailed enough, re-read the passages and repeat step #2
I dare you to try this for 5 days in a row! I also dare you to see what an amazing course of study we’ve developed to give all students the gift of UNDERSTANDING what they read.
Off to learn,
Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand Jr.