What makes a good reader & how Fast ForWord programs improve reading

If you’ve seen the exercises in the initial Fast ForWord programs, you would have noticed that there is very little reading involved in the early levels (click to see demo video). Why do exercises that don’t make children read improve their reading?

What makes a good reader?

Some students learn to read easily while others don’t. Why is this?

It’s not necessarily to do with intelligence but rather cognitive skills – for children to learn to read, they need good memory, attention, sequencing and processing speed and accuracy.

MAPS reading brain Fast ForWord reading program

  • Working memory. Early in school, a student might have trouble remembering what sounds the letters of the alphabet stand for (phonics). This makes sounding out words very hard. Later in school, this student might have trouble remembering what they read just a few sentences earlier and so has to re-read the same paragraphs over and over again.
    How do you know if a child has working memory problems? Look for trouble following commands or remembering details of instructions or stories.
  • Attention. When learning to read, the student needs to pay attention to the letters and the sounds they represent. Later in school, students who have trouble paying attention have trouble sticking with a reading assignment.
    How do you know if a student has attention problems? The student might read a few sentences or paragraphs then look around the room, drop a pencil, or get up out of a chair. Students with short attention spans can take a very long time to finish reading assignments.
  • Sequencing. Good readers need to be able to correctly order letters into words (“saw” versus “was”) and grammatical endings (“the boy runs” versus “the boys run”), and words into sentences (“the dog chased the boy” versus “the boy chased the dog”).
    When students have trouble sequencing, they will misunderstand what they read.
  • Processing speed and accuracy. You may have heard of “auditory processing” and “visual processing”. These terms refer to the way the brain perceives and attaches meaning to information coming in from hearing or vision. Many students are quite good at processing visual information (they’re often described as “visual learners”). These students might remember how words look when they are spelled. The problem is that it’s impossible to visually remember every word! We need our auditory processing system to be strong for reading, because our brain actually processes reading as if it were speech.
    If a child has trouble hearing the difference between the vowels in “bit” and “bet,” it makes sense that matching letters and sounds will be difficult. In fact, there is a great deal of research indicating that children with auditory processing difficulties find learning to read very difficult.
    Learn more: what is auditory processing disorder?

Wait. Isn’t reading to do with the eyes?

Because we use our eyes to read, we tend to think that reading is a visual skill that depends primarily on linking letters to sounds – but recent neuroscience research has taught us that it’s actually the auditory processing and memory parts of our brains that are most active during reading, and that visual skills only play a very small part.

Fast ForWord programs train memory, attention, sequencing and processing, and improve reading

Fast ForWord dyslexia research

Research conducted at Stanford University showed increased activation in the brain areas used for reading, spelling and writing after Fast ForWord.

All children who struggle to read should receive cognitive training in the core skills needed for good reading: memory, attention, sequencing, and processing speed & accuracy.

Fluent, accurate reading is the key to success. Every student deserves the opportunity to become a good reader. Fast ForWord programs were designed by neuroscientists to improve these core skills and make reading easier for struggling students.

Video: The Reading Brain

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Burns, M. (2012). What Makes a Good Reader? The Foundations of Reading Proficiency.

Kopko, K. Dyslexia and the Brain: Research Shows that Reading Ability Can be Improved.