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Timed Reading Activities

By: Angelique Caffrey - Updated: 1 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Timed Reading Timed Reading Activity

If your child is already starting to read (or is reading on his / her own) and is interested in the process but needs some help, why not incorporate some timed reading activities into your weekly repertoire of literacy activities? Handled correctly, timed reading can produce terrific results and help your son or daughter learn how to read more efficiently and effectively.

Below are some common questions asked about timed reading activities in addition to their answers.

What is Timed Reading?

Timed reading is really just as it sounds. The child reads and the parent (or caregiver or educator) times him / her during the activity. For instance, a seven-year-old boy might be asked to read as many words as he can in one minute. The adult starts the clock and the boy begins to read. When the minute is up, the adult asks the child to explain what he read. The adult also counts the number of words that were read as a 'benchmark' to use the next time the timed reading activity is undertaken.

Can My Child Read Aloud to Me Rather Than to Him or Herself?

Absolutely! Many parents and teachers have kids read aloud from books. Afterwards, they measure how many words the children got right versus how many they got incorrect during the exercise. This helps create measurable goals for the next time around and gives the child a sense of achievement. For example, if week one an eight-year-old girl reads 70 words in a minute (55 correct, 15 incorrect) and week two she reads 72 words in a minute (58 correct, 14 incorrect), it’s easy to see on paper that she’s getting more proficient.

Is Speed the Desired Result?

Though speedy reading is helpful to children, it isn’t the most important outcome of the exercise. More important is the boy or girl’s ability to comprehend material that has been read relatively quickly. And checking for comprehension isn’t difficult – after your child has read the story aloud to you or silently to him / herself, talk about what happened in the tale and ask pertinent questions about the material. You’ll be able to see almost immediately whether your child is simply reading individual words or absorbing all the information in context.

Is Timed Reading Too Intense for My Child?

Depending upon the age and ability of your child, timed reading may be a perfect activity. Just make sure that it’s not conducted in an extremely intense manner. You don’t want to shout in the child’s ear, “You only have five seconds left!” It’s basically a competition against his or her last timed activity, not against another person. And most kids find the activity enjoyable as long as it’s not done every day and the adult holding the clock doesn’t become frustrated if the child doesn’t improve every time.

Should I Reward My Child for Improvements?

This is a tricky question. Ideally, reading faster should be a reward in itself for the child. However, it may be appropriate to give small rewards depending upon how far the youngster has come in the process of learning to read. Stickers, hugs or later bedtimes are always options. Just don’t make the activity about the reward but about the process.

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