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Pros: Games can be used for brain training, and progress stats can motivate teens to get even faster.
Cons: It doesn’t address many of the skills students need to focus on beyond speed.
Bottom Line: Beyond the focus on reading speed, these brain exercises can help teens think fast, too.
You may find the reading speed tests informative to use with teens or older kids, just to see where they're at. The brief reading excerpt test gives a WPM (words per minute) score; it also tests comprehension with four questions, giving a percentage score. While Reading Trainer does claim to improve reading comprehension, be aware that speed-reading programs generally consider a lower reading comprehension rate to be successful; you be the judge.
Reading Trainer is an app designed to increase both reading speed and retention using eye exercises that its developer says will improve mental capacity. It starts by assessing teens' current reading speed in WPM (words per minute) and then takes them through about a dozen units of study with several exercises each to train their brains to read faster by focusing only on important characters or information. Some exercises are simply eye-brain training -- like following a moving circle across the screen with eyes only, or reading numbers flashing across the screen. Others require some speedy feedback from students -- like typing in words or numbers that flash quickly across the screen. The app tracks progress at every step, and teens can take a reading speed test at any time to see how they're progressing. Users are encouraged to complete one unit a day -- about 10 minutes of training -- and then rest their brains to allow them to process the new connections.
Yes, kids can learn to read quickly, but the app ignores skills they're working on beyond speed, like deeper comprehension, vocabulary development, reading for information, literary analysis, and reading for enjoyment. For these, students need close, careful reading more than speed.
Still, the brain exercises in Reading Trainer can help kids think and react clearly and quickly in addition to boosting their reading speed. The speed-reading part of the training teaches students to look at information in chunks, to read images rather than words, and to focus only on relevant information. The stats after each activity allow students to see how practice improves their performance.