The ability to focus on text is vital to reading comprehension. Studying for tests, reading for information, or researching for your job are all situations that require efficient reading. If you find yourself reading the same passage again and again by accident or if you read and then cannot recall the material that you just covered, you may need to improve your ability to pay attention to what you read. There are a number of strategies that will improve your focus on reading.
Create a Calm Environment for Reading
Remove visual clutter from your reading environment. Read in a place that is free from mess or reminders of other tasks that need to be completed. The environment should also be free from movement like people walking nearby. Avoid reading near windows that show lots of activity.
Avoid auditory clutter when you need to focus on reading. Neutral background noise such as soft instrumental music or white noise may improve your concentration, but songs with lyrics, conversations, television programs and other spoken language is likely to distract you.
Get comfortable when you need to concentrate on reading. Being hungry, thirsty, too cold or too hot will distract you and cause you to lose focus. Stress can also disrupt your concentration. Awareness of your internal state will help you focus on text.
Use Active Strategies to Stay Engaged with Text
Complete pre-reading activities such as learning pertinent vocabulary, asking questions about the content, and activating previous knowledge. Pre-reading activities get your mind ready to absorb what you are about to read.
Engage your brain when reading. Outline or complete a graphic organizer to show how the information fits together. Read to find answers to pre-reading questions. Take notes. Highlight or underline important information.
Try reading aloud, whispering or moving your lips as you read. It will slow you down and make it more noticeable if you skip words or lines.
Stop at the ends of sections and write a brief summary about what you have just read. This should just be a sentence or two, but it will help you recall the ideas, organize them and make connections between them.
- "How to Reach and Teach ADD/ADHD Children: Practical Techniques, Strategies, and Interventions for Helping Children with Attention Problems and Hyperactivity"; Sandra F. Rief; 1993
- Additude: Memory Help for ADHD Students: Reading to Remember
Sandy Fleming is a writer and educator from Michigan with master's and bachelor's degrees in special education. She has been writing for the Web for more than 10 years and does private tutoring with children and adults. Her areas of expertise include educational and parenting topics as well as how-to articles and informative pieces. Fleming writes for numerous Internet publications and the local newspaper.