Skimming is the skill used to locate the main idea of a text in a quick and efficient manner. After becoming proficient in reading, your youngster can learn to skim-read to increase his speed and ability to decipher the main and supporting ideas in passages and paragraphs. If reading has become more of a chore than a choice for your child, skimming activities can also make reading challenging and exciting again.
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A Time for Speed
Skimming is an acquired skill. When children are in the early stages of learning, they sometimes try to read fast and skip over entire sections. They are reading as quickly as possible because "fast" is the goal, but skimming is the ability to pick out the important facts of a passage, not just get through it fast. As you're beginning to introduce skimming, teach your child not to rush. Encourage him to take the time to locate the main idea; as he begins to develop the skill, his speed will increase as well. Explain that there is a time for skimming and a time to slow down. Skimming is a short-term memory activity, whereas reading to remember or to enjoy requires slower reading. Make a chart of the times when skimming can be useful and when slower reading is a better choice.
"I Spy" Skimming
Help your child skim through a text to find words quickly with a modified game of "I Spy." Pick out a few words from the story ahead of time and then get the stopwatch ready. Say one of your words aloud and see how fast your child can skim through the particular page or paragraph to find it. You can modify the game by having her search for the longest word in a paragraph, the name of a character or all the words that start with a particular letter.
Help your child practice his skimming skills by teaching him to identify the main idea of a paragraph, passage or instruction. It's important for him to be able to distinguish between the main idea and the supporting details. To do this, have him create story webs. In these webs, the main idea of the story or paragraph goes in the center and all of the supporting details surround it like a web. Have your child try to figure out the main idea and then pick out the supporting details from the story. After he attempts the activity, help him make any necessary corrections and try the activity again with another story.
Turn skimming into an art activity to make it more exciting for an art lover or a child who is less than enthusiastic about the lesson. Have your child read through a paragraph, passage or chapter of a book and then take a moment to reflect on the main idea of the reading. Hand over the pencils, crayons, paints, watercolors or pastels and let her turn the idea into a work of art. She can create a picture of each main idea of a story to turn it into a beautiful storyboard for her wall. Now she's learning about skimming and creating artwork for her bedroom, too.
You can play this game with your child or with a group of his friends to help them all brush up on their skimming skills. Write a variety of questions about a particular reading passage on paper -- one question per paper. Make multiple sets if more than one child is participating. Lay the question cards face down. Have your child flip over the first card when you say go and then read through the passage to find the answer to the question. After writing down the answer, he flips over the next question card and searches for the answer. Use a stopwatch to monitor his skimming skills, or award a prize, like a book, to the quickest member of the group.