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The Neurological Impress Method

The Neurological Impress Method

Background – The Neurological Impress Method (NIM) was first used by Dr. R.G. Heckelman in an experiment in the early 1960s. It is what is now called an assisted reading strategy. Thirty years of studies have shown that NIM is a very effective method of remedial reading instruction for many students, whether they are beginning readers or struggling readers at any grade level. According to Heckelman, progress can be very rapid. Some children advance as much as a grade level after just 2 hours of instruction. And many students are able to read on grade level after using the method for 8 to 12 hours.
NIM does not work with all children. You should know after 4-hours whether your child is responding well to NIM, or another method needs to be tried. Children with serious language or neurological impairments may require additional help before starting to use NIM.

What NIM Can Do

  • Give parents an easy way to improve their children's reading.
  • Deliver rapid progress in a limited amount of time.
  • Offer non-stressful reading instruction.
  • Provide a multi-sensory approach to reading.
  • Increase the reader's attention span.
  • Give exposure to a large number of words including difficult words in each reading session.
  • Provide a model of correct reading, and eliminate many poor reading habits.

Using the Neurological Impress Method

How to Start NIM - Before you begin the first session, explain to your child that you are more concerned with the style of his or her reading than the accuracy. Point out also that will never ask questions about what you have read. And you must never correct or criticize the child's reading during or after a NIM session.
Time - NIM reading sessions should be held on consecutive days for 10 to 15 minutes. Ten minutes is often sufficient for young children and very poor readers. NIM should be used for a total period of 8 to 12 hours. Once children are reading at the level where they are expected to read, very little improvement will take place even with additional NIM sessions.
Material - Start with material that is very easy for your child to handle. This could be first or second grade material even for a child in eighth grade. You don't want, however, to spend too much time on material that is at the lower level of the child's reading ability. For example, Heckelman advises that an eighth grader of average intelligence starting at the first or second grade reading level should be in third grade material by the end of 2 hours and in fifth or sixth grade material after 6 hours, and possibly in seventh or eighth grade material after 12 hours of instruction. If your child's reading problems are not severe, you should try to move rapidly to using material that is on his or her grade level. This will expose your child to more difficult words. Teachers and librarians can assist you in determining the reading level of different materials.

How to use the NIM method

Procedure - To obtain the best results, it is extremely important that you follow the NIM procedure exactly:
  1. Sit your child slightly in front of you so that your voice will be close to his or her right ear.
  2. Hold the reading material jointly with your child.
  3. Vary the reading material to keep your child's interest. Use newspapers, magazines, and works of fiction and nonfiction.
  4. Read the material out loud with your child. At first, you should read a little louder and slightly faster. If your child complains that he or she cannot keep up with you, urge the child to continue and to forget about any mistakes. It may, however, be necessary for you to slow down to a rate that is more comfortable for your child or to repeat sentences and paragraphs several times.
  5. In the first few sessions, you should reread the initial lines or paragraphs several times until your child is reading in a normal fluid fashion. Only 2 to 3 minutes of repetition should be sufficient for most students to feel comfortable with NIM. If your child reads well right away, do not reread the material.
  6. Speed up your reading rate for a few minutes in each session to pull your child to a higher reading rate.
  7. As you read, run your finger under a word as it is spoken. It is quite important that these actions be simultaneous and that your finger move in a smooth fashion. Good readers often look ahead of what they are reading aloud and must be especially careful that their fingers are under the words that are being read aloud. At the end of a line, you must move your finger back swiftly to the beginning of the new line just like a typewriter carriage does at the end of a line.
  8. Your child can take over the finger movement or alternate this task with you after several sessions, if desired. Should your child have difficulty in moving his or her finger to accompany the words, place your hand on the child's finger and guide it until a smooth movement is achieved.
  9. Read as many pages as you can in a session while using the rate and intonation of a fluent reader. As your child begins to master the material and gain confidence, you can read with a softer voice or lag slightly behind the child. Should your child falter, start immediately to read louder and faster

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