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What makes a person a "slow reader"?

Three*to*goThree*to*go Registered User Posts: 81 Junior Member
My kid (son) takes forever to read chapters or any longer material.

Some of the problems slow reading contributes to: no time to finish tests involving much reading, studying takes longer, assistance to course work that comes in the form of yet more material to be read is considered excruciating and likely to be left by the wayside or used lightly, seldom reading for pleasure, avoidance of courses that require much, being pushed to read faster means the understanding of what is read suffers...

To me, this is like being bad in mathematics and avoiding everything that smacks of math. It can rule your life and affect the types of career choices you'll have eventually.

I have a kid who is an A student and is smashing with the elegant solutions of math and concise writing of science where he feels his career lies. Yet being able to read is so essential, especially as a college student immediately.

Are you or were you a slow reader and if so, were you able to improve? How? If not, does your career choice accommodate you by not requiring much reading/writing?

I'll admit I'm puzzled since once again I'm at 180 degrees from my son--a speed demon reader and no problem with writing tomes. (However, I avoided math because I couldn't seem to retain what I'd learned long term.)
Post edited by Three*to*go on

Replies to: What makes a person a "slow reader"?

  • andiandi Registered User Posts: 1,600 Senior Member
    3 2 Go Just out of curiosity, is he a good speller?
  • Three*to*goThree*to*go Registered User Posts: 81 Junior Member
    Yes, he is a good speller.
  • PHampsonPHampson Registered User Posts: 88 Junior Member
    From ancetodal evidence, it seems many enginners/science studens are very slow readers. The difference in when you read a math and science textbook, usually nearly every word is important. In the humanties, you need to discern between information that is not needed to comprehend the larger argument in the text. Practice, mainly, is what probably could help your son read faster and also just to be cognizant that you don't alway need every detail. Topic sentences, the intro and conclusion of the book and each chapter are nearly always the most important parts of a book and where an author makes thie main points. Skimming novels is a bit different because they aren't structured like non fiction and just really requires practice.
  • andiandi Registered User Posts: 1,600 Senior Member
    I would think that if he is naturally inclined toward math/science that the slow reading wouldn't affect his choice of career all that much.

    My father and s#1 are both slow readers and poor spellers but they chose fields that didn't require hours of dense reading. Father has PhD in systems analysis so it certainly didn't hold him back from an education. S#1, although a science major, took a philosophy course his freshman year and really agonized over the amount of reading. Of course there's reading in science but it's not as intense as some other fields.
    Your son may be able to get extended time on exams.
  • dmd77dmd77 Registered User Posts: 8,663 Senior Member
    A friend's son took a speed reading course while in high school because he hated taking so long to read novels. He graduated from Carleton (applied math major) a few months back and told me that course made a huge difference in his ability to get things done.
  • kp2001kp2001 Registered User Posts: 614 Member
    "From ancetodal evidence, it seems many engineers/science studens are very slow readers."

    This is definately not true for those of us in the medical sciences. The volume of information one needs to read while in medical school is incredible. It has even developed an analogy: It's like drinking from a fire hose.
  • over30over30 Registered User Posts: 2,411 Senior Member
    One of my sons was a very slow reader, one just kind of slow. Neither is a great speller but I blame that on a lack of phonics in early elementary school. A few years ago they both took an "improve your reading speed" course. The focus was on comprehension as well as speed. They both improved their normal reading speed. They learned how to skim material as well as just read faster. The class had 4-6 people each week, so they got individual attention. They were the only teen-agers, most of the others were in college or law school.

    They read books you would read in high school or college English courses. My oldest said the book discussions were better than those in his English classes in middle or high school.

    This class did not make them super fast readers - they can't fan themselves with the breeze created by turning pages every second or two. But it did improve their reading speed and comprehension and they both felt it was worthwhile.
  • ophioliteophiolite Registered User Posts: 1,054 Member
    Historically I have been a slow reader, reflected by poor reading comprehension scores on assessment exams (example: 8th grade PSSA exams...math: 99th percentile; reading: 45th)...

    I must agree to an extent (some people just have it all...) that those inclined at math and sciences tend to read slower and be more particular/picky in their reading.

    As to help remedy "problem"...practice, practice, practice. I never took a speed reading course or the likes, however, as I read more, I'm able to read certain subjects faster. It still takes me quite some time to get through peer reviewed scientific papers (which is not abnormal), but I'm much quicker at finding what I need out of textbooks and reading novels for fun.

    Also, I wouldn't worry too much about slow reading in college. I had much more time to go the extra mile to read not only what was required for the class, but also supplemental materials due to taking much fewer classes than in high school.

    One last comment. As your son reads more, his writing skills will continue to grow and develop.
  • maritemarite Registered User Posts: 21,586 Senior Member
    If the student is not held up by vocabulary or does not have LD, then it seems an issue of reading strategy.
    PHampson is right about what to look for in most texts. A course in speed reading would help.
    My S, the math/science nerd, is not a slow reader. On the contrary, his problem is that he reads essentially for information, so he reads faster than he should do. In the humanities and in the social sciences, you need to stop and think more about what you're reading, and read critically, mentally arguing with the author sometimes, or trying to figure out the psychological insights in a story, and so forth, not just the storyline. Students who are used to a lot of action in the movies they watch, the computer games they play, may have a bit more trouble reading in such a way.
    Some students compensate for their inability to extract the relevant information by reading everything very slowly, practically memorizing the text. But they are not able to respond well to questions about the text because they have not extracted the relevant information from it. I've had dealing with telemarketers who get totally flustered if you interrupt them in the middle of their prepared spiel to ask a question. Not only do they not know how to answer it, but sometimes, they need to go all the way back to the beginning of the spiel. Some students are like that when they do not know how to read.
    Besides the reading strategy class suggested by others, I would suggest asking for study questions. Some profs provide them as a matter of course as guides to the reading assignments. If not, try to team up with someone from the same class and ask him/her to pose questions based on the reading.
  • corrangedcorranged Registered User Posts: 6,684 Senior Member
    My sister is a slow reader. It takes her longer to get through assignments, but she has never let it hinder her. She's at Dartmouth and not looking to major in any math or science (though she is doing pre-med). There is a lot of reading in college, and it takes her a while to complete it, but she can still handle it.

    One of my friends takes a while to read, as well. When we go over poems or essays in english class, she's always finished last by quite a bit. She's looking to major in English.

    I am a very fast reader naturally, and I don't really know why. I can try to read quickly (at a couple seconds per page or something) if I'm pressed for time, or I can read at what I feel to be a slow pace, but from what I hear it's still very fast. I have no idea why I do this, but I have some observations about what I do when I try to read faster. I do not sub-vocalize except for a word here and there. I do not depend on that voice in the back of my head reading aloud to me. It's important for reading to be a more visual activity to go quickly, I think. There are two different things I do to get through pages quickly. The first is using my finger to "push" my eyes over the words at the pace I want to read. I keep moving my finger and just keep on reading the words right in front of it. I've noticed that othertimes my eyes will travel back to re-read words or phrases that I liked or that were interesting (this has it's place, but you can't do it when trying to get through material quickly). If I don't do that, I just let my eye travel very quickly down the page. I look at the page as a whole to get the words. I don't go word by word or line by line; I look at the big picture. I'm not sure if these are just me or preached (or preached against!) in those speed reading classes, but it does seem to work for me.

    I also write quickly. Writing is a little like a journey, and you need to begin to see where you will end up. Maybe he should try having a general idea of what he's writing about and then just beginning, without a full plan. If he does do this, maybe he should try the opposite. Sit down and write a quick outline (paragraphs, main points, quotes he'll use, etc.), and then just fill in the extra stuff around the outline.

    For careers that require a lot of reading, it needs to get done. It will take more time for slower readers, but they can still get it done. It just takes more commitment.
  • coureurcoureur Registered User Posts: 11,386 Senior Member
    >>From ancetodal evidence, it seems many enginners/science studens are very slow readers.<<

    Error. From having been a scientist for over 30 years and known and worked with hundreds of other scientists, I'd say this is dead wrong. The number of slow reading scientists I have run across in in my career I can count on one hand. In science you are reading and writing all the time.
  • binxbinx Registered User Posts: 4,318 Senior Member
    My second S was a slow reader, because he read for detail. Too much detail. I think he thought he had to memorize the text as he went!

    Junior and senior year language arts are reading-heavy (also heavy reading!) at least at his school. So, prior to his junior year, I did what dmd suggested above: I signed him up for a summer speed reading course. The class was mostly low achievers (although they assured me on the phone that wouldn't be the case), so the class wasn't as good as it could have been. However, I do think it helped him push his pace. And being one of the "best" in the class helped restore his confidence after a rough 10th grade language arts experience.

    Another thing we did was get the list of books from the teacher at the beginning of the year. (We told her we wanted to shop for them at second hand stores, which was also true.) Then he was able to read ahead over Christmas and other breaks.
  • bing121086bing121086 Registered User Posts: 1,097 Senior Member
    I've always been the last one in class to finish reading a poem or story or whatever, and I have to say that I think what a previous poster has some merit. I assumed that everyone else also read a text aloud in their heads or "sub-vocalized" as another had called it, but senior year of high school someone told me that wasn't the case. I don't quite understand how the other half lives, and changing my habits has never seemed necessary or even of great importance. Sure it takes me an hour to read a chapter it takes others 50 minutes, but it's not a huge deal. If the ratio were an hour to 30 minutes or something, then perhaps a speed reading course might be in order, but I don't worry about it.
  • TheDadTheDad Registered User, ! Posts: 10,224 Senior Member
    Nobody has mentioned vision problems. My D had a "tracking problem" that was diagnosed in 1st grade. Her vocabulary was off the charts but the physical act of reading was difficult for her and she was both a slow and a "late" reader. One pediatric opthamologist was brutally dismissive about the notion of tracking problems..."give 'em a whack with a ruler and they'll read better" was his attitude. We got a second referral who absolutely believed in it and gave D some exercises to do daily. In all, there were something like 3-4 office vists for evaluation and assessment of progress. He also recommended that D ease eye strain by sitting towards the front of the class and gave us a written endorsement to that effect for use with the teachers.

    The exercises may have been dorky...working on focusing on things at different distances in rapid succession and the like...but they worked. I also think that D has a mild form of dyslexia that pops up with certain letter combinations.

    Yet another nod against the notion of engineers/science students being slow readers.

    And an affirmation to Marite's #10, observing that some readers read too quickly...as a science kid, I had that problem with "humanities" material in high school...didn't really start to "get" it until well into college.

    Bing, mutual bogglement...if one subvocalized, it would be like swimming through wet concrete.

    Reading speed is text dependent. Most newspaper articles, I probably read somewhere between 1,000 and 1,200 words per minute...if I'm reading Dickens, drop down into second gear. IRS instruction forms, first gear.
  • bookwormbookworm Registered User Posts: 7,679 Senior Member
    So much depends on getting a young child to read, and finding material that is interesting to him/her. I'd look for anything - whether sports magazine, girly mags/chick lit, pop culture. Roald Doahl was a starter for my S, then Star Trek, S Wars, Lord of Rings, anything by Orson Scott Card (Ender's Game), etc. (By HS, he was finally off & running into everything, but it was a slow start)
    I see young adults struggling to get thru Lord of Flies and other required reading, but then relax with teen books & magazines.
    Nothing like reinforcement. Our local Pizza Hut use to give out personal pan pizzas after a certain # of books read.
This discussion has been closed.