Read to Understand

Read to Understand


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It’s great to read a lot, but make sure you’re understanding what you’re reading.

Speed reading is a talent that very few people have. There are definitely people out there who can scan a single page of a book for a few seconds and know what is said. For everyone else, we’re stuck with taking more time to read through the page to understand what is going on. That’s definitely not a bad thing, and you should take as much time as you need to read each page of a book.

If you’re worried about not reading enough books, then it’s probably time to ditch the social aspect of reading. If you’re on Goodreads, or any other social media site which tracks your reading for others to see, then you need to stop using it. If you want to keep track of your reading for yourself, then sign up for an account that has no friends or followers that you can track with.

If you’re reading simply to mark the number of pages and books that you read in a public forum, then you’re doing it all wrong. Reading never has been and never will be about who can read the most. It’s both a tool to help us learn (provide information) and a way for us to explore different worlds through the use of words. If you’re not actually understanding what you’re reading then you’re losing out on the rewards of reading.

If you struggle with missing your goals, and thus you’re trying to read too fast, then don’t set a number of books that you’re going to read. Rather, set a goal of how many minutes you’re going to read. By setting a minute goal rather than a book goal, you’re able to focus more on understanding your reading rather than getting through the book as quickly as you can - you can focus on what’s important.

These same lessons are important for your kids to start to understand as well. As your child is learning to read, they shouldn’t be focused on how many books they read, but how much time they are reading. Help your child to focus on understanding what they are reading. Set goals and rewards around time spent reading and comprehension of what they’re reading rather than on a number of books that they’re reading.

Help your child realize that reading is far reaching consequences that go beyond just learning or enjoying a book. Reading is used in every subject in school, and success in those classes is highly coupled with how well your child reads. While a child may excel at math over another child, the child who has a higher reading comprehension will generally do better at math as they’re able to understand the questions.

As you work on understanding what you read, you’ll find that over time you can read faster. The more that you read, the faster you will become over time. However, you have to make a conscious effort to understand what you’re reading. If you’re not learning new words or phrases along the way, your reading won’t become better. If there are words or parts that you don’t understand, then you need to re-read and look up definitions.

Learning to read faster will take time and effort, but it will provide huge long term benefits if you take the time to understand rather than trying to rush through it.


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