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Speed Reading Programs

Help children (especially the Dyslexic and ADHD) to read faster and understand more by teaching a class at your city Parks and Recreation Dept.
By George Stancliffe
8-13-02

One of the most satisfying things you can do is to make a lasting positive difference in the life of someone else. This is exactly why parenting is such a fulfilling role.

So, when I was thinking of what I could do to earn an extra income that would also be rewarding in an emotional sense, I looked for something that would make the most lasting positive impact on the life of a child for the small time that I have available.

I ended up deciding to try a 'Speed Reading For Kids' class. I went to the City Parks and Recreation Department (you know, those people who sponsor the Summer swimming lessons for young children) and expressed a desire to teach an evening speed reading class for young kids and their parents. At first they told me that they had never tried something like that before (Parks and Rec. Departments usually just do swimming classes, activity classes, and occasionally craft classes [some people can make a pretty good income by doing classes for some Parks and Recreation Depts]). But the director was intrigued by the idea and decided to give it a try.

It was a hit.

The first class had children ranging in age from 11 to 16. After one month, they were all reading 3,000 words per minute or more (by comparison, the average college graduate reads 300 wpm). I became hooked on the idea. I have taught dozens of Parks & Recreation classes since, for several different cities.

What's surprising to most people is that you don't have to know how to speed read yourself to be able to teach it to kids. Children just soak this skill up like a sponge, in most cases (it's the adults who have to struggle with it in order for "the light bulb to go on" in their heads).

Another surprise awaited me when a lady, who had heard about me, called me on the phone and informed me that one expert had indicated that kids with ADD, ADHD and Dyslexia make the best speed readers (see Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World by Jeffrey Freed, p. 119). Based on my own observations since then, I must say that Jeffrey Freed's conclusion is probably correct.

My passion for teaching speed reading to children had now turned into a moral crusade. I was able to see how speed reading could literally save many Dyslexics, ADD and ADHD's from poor grades and near-illiteracy.

You can save many of them in YOUR OWN COMMUNITY with a little effort, and make an extra income at the same time.

How do you start?

First you need a lesson plan. There are many books out there which teach speed reading. Even though they are geared for adults (usually), they can be adapted if you are willing to improvise. I personally know at least three different methods that various teachers have used to teach speed reading to children with success. See what plans are out there and choose the one which fits your needs the best.

Second, you need to make sure it is FUN. Have you ever been to a Tupperware Party? That's the kind of atmosphere that needs to be present when you are teaching kids to speed read. I always bring candy and have contests, etc. Believe me, if it starts to get dull, you've lost it. This is because they will all think it is impossible to speed read at first. But since all kids want to earn treats and win contests, they will usually just play along--until a few start to catch on. Once one or more kids start to catch on and really start understanding--watch out! They all get serious and don't want to get left behind!

Third, don't require any written paperwork. Most speed reading classes for adults require all kinds of notes, mindmaps, etc. They do this for a good reason: it is a proven way to improve recall and comprehension.

However, you are dealing with KIDS, and paperwork and workbooks are a proven way to kill their interest in speed reading. When the paperwork begins, the fun ends. And when the fun ends, it's all over.

Instead, when a kid finishes reading a selection, just have them repeat everything that they can recall to you in 60 seconds or less. Then give the child a tootsie roll as a reward, even if they can't recall anything. As long as they tried, that's good enough. Keep it FUN. Keep it POSITIVE.

Fourth, Go to the Parks and Recreation Department and have them set it up. They will be happy to help. They will want to charge a registration fee for each child who gets signed up for the class (this is where your paycheck comes from. Try to negotiate for a good percentage of the registration fee). Here's a tip: Have the Parks & Recreation Department only charge for the children to enroll, but let the parents attend for free. This gets more children into the class. Many adults want to learn speed reading themselves, but haven't considered it for their kids. So they will sign their kids up for the class just so they can take the class for free. Plus, with the parents present, you never have to worry about behavior problems.

If you follow this advice and keep everything fun and upbeat, you will have success at teaching speed reading to children from ages 8 on up to adult, even many with ADD, ADHD and Dyslexia. Then you can go to bed each night knowing that you have done a world of good for a child.

Q's & A's

Q. Do 100% of all children get good at speed reading?
A. From what I've seen in my classes, 95% of kids will significantly improve their reading speed to some degree or another [usually at least double or triple]. Many will achieve rates of over 1,000 with good comprehension, especially the kids between the ages of 8 to 12. When you get a child who struggles with it, it is important to let them know that they are doing fine and are normal. This skill has nothing to do with IQ, and there is no such thing as a "correct speed."

In fact my best speed reading student for the year 2000 was a "late bloomer." This 12 year old boy had FAILED to learn anything at all in his first speed reading class [that he took weeks or months before]. But the second time was a charm, as he proceeded to surpass 8,000 wpm with near total recall. Within 2 months he had read half-way through the school library.

We each have our own natural talents and our own timetables. The point is not to be better than somebody else, but rather to improve ourselves.

Q. I can't speed read myself. I need to teach myself to speed read first, before I can teach it to kids. Right?
A. NO YOU DON'T! It takes at least 10 times more effort for an adult to catch on to speed reading than it does for a 10 year old child.

Trust me. If you just start experimenting with teaching this to kids, you will soon see that the adults are almost a waste of time by comparison. Kids learn this so easily that you'll wonder why this isn't a required subject in every school.

Teach yourself to speed read after you have taught a few 10 year olds first. That way you won't lose motivation. It'll drive you crazy to see the little kids reading circles around you.

Q. How long should the speed reading class last?
A. That's up to you. I've done one-month classes and I've done one-night workshops. The kids usually have better long-term results with the one month classes. That's because they are accountable every time they show up for class. But you make more money from the one-night workshops.

If you remind the parents who are present that their kids will do much better with their speed reading if they are sure to use the skill for at least 15 minutes per day for the next few months, then many of them will make their kids follow up with it.

Maybe you should try it both ways to see which way you like the best.

Q. How soon will I be ready to teach a class for the Parks and Recreation Dept. in my town?
A. As soon as you do a practice class or two after school, on some willing volunteers, at the local grade school, Jr. High, or High school. Just go to the principal and have a sign-up sheet in the office. Or just practice on a few interested neighbors or friends.

Q. How do you work with the kids around?
A. I usually take 2 or 3 of my kids with me to my Parks and Recreation Classes. They like to hand out Tootsie Rolls and Starbursts to the kids as rewards for their participation (Of course my kids also eat some of the rewards, too!). This gives them some practical business experience.

Contact George Stancliffe at george@speedreading4kids.com or visit him at his website www.speedreading4kids.com . Information for this article was adapted from his book Speed Reading 4 Kids. Permission granted for use on Bizymoms.com.

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