Increasing Reading Speed

As children progress through school, the amount of material that they must read increases dramatically. Children who read slowly are at a definite disadvantage. Reading rate does not increase naturally. Children must work at it. This, however, is not a skill that should be focused on with most children until the start of sixth grade.

Any efforts to increase the rate at which your children read should only be made if your children do not have serious reading deficiencies. The first step is to eliminate the following bad habits:

Reading aloud to themselves:

This limits children to reading no faster than they speak. They can speed up their rate by reading with a pencil or pen between their lips or by chewing gum or sucking on hard candy, because it stops them from vocalizing as they read.

Finger pointing:

While finger pointing does help children keep their place. It slows rate, as too much attention is paid to each word. The cure is simple. The children should use a 3-inch-by-5-inch card to keep their place as they read.


When reading, children's eyes should move forward across a line. Backtracking will slow down their rate. To stop this habit, children can use a 3-inch-by-5-inch card and cover each line as it is read. The card should be cut on a slight angle so it will cover the beginning of a line as they are reading the end.

Next Steps

Once bad habits are eliminated, have your children train to increase their speed for approximately 10 minutes a day. Children should read very easy material when working on improving their rate.

During a session, they should start reading at their normal rate and then make an effort to speed up. Then they can finish a session by reading without pushing themselves so much.

At the end of each week, your children should figure out the number of words they are reading per minute for the first pages. Then making a chart will let them see how their rate is improving.