Promote Reading Comprehension With These 3 Easy Steps
Your child is struggling with reading comprehension, reading like a robot, or just unwilling to voluntarily pick up a book and read. You’ve tried everything and exhausted every reward you could possibly dangle in front of your child, and still, you can’t get your child to voluntarily pick up a book and read. What’s the answer? It’s strikingly simple and ridiculously rewarding.
As an experienced educator, former school administrator, tutor, and author of educational materials, I firmly believe that the best thing a parent can do is resist the temptation to intervene, interrupt, and interrogate while a child is reading.
We’ve lost sight of what actually turned us into lifelong readers when we were young: reading, not reading comprehension or dry passages from a workbook, but just plain old reading. Even I have to suppress my instinct to ask my 3- and 6-year old nephews comprehension questions when reading to them at night.
I’m not saying we should abandon reading comprehension questions entirely. I’m just saying that kids need a break. They need opportunities to read what they want, when they want, and without interruption or evaluation. Here’s how to make that happen while boosting comprehension skills:
Turn on the closed captioning or subtitles and mute the sound when the TV is on. You can Google your TV’s model number or play with the menu button on your remote to enable this. Go to the TV Guide channel or tvguide.com to see programs for the day, then look for the (cc) symbol next to a show to see if closed captioning is available. This just runs text along the screen at the speed of oral communication, which is the rate your child needs to learn to read as a step toward fluency. You might get some resistance at first, but if used as a reward, it won’t be an uphill battle. I’m not advocating plopping a child in front of a TV and allowing it to become your child’s new parent. Remember, it’s still TV, and it is no match for actual books (or actual parenting).
Know the standards your child should master, but focus on statements, not questions. When a child masters a concept, there is a boost in self-esteem and positive feelings about learning. It would be great if there were more engaging educational children’s fiction books out there that empower parents by referencing educational standards a child must master in a particular grade, but publishers haven’t stepped up to the plate on that one. Until then, you can visit www.BeyondTestPrep.com/standards to see a list of standards and keep them in mind while reading with your child. Focus on statements instead of questions (i.e., “there are a lot of figurative statements on this page” instead of “can you find three figurative statements on this page?”). If the child wants to probe your statement further, she will. This is a process; let it unfold at your child’s pace. Don’t force it, and don’t interrupt your child while reading. Wait until she has finished a page or a chapter to correct pronunciation or make statements.
Teach reading skills when you’re nowhere near a book. Comprehension questions are not evil; they just tend to interfere with the reading process and reduce a child’s enjoyment during reading. To fix this, just ask comprehension questions about things happening around you while you’re out and about. You can ask early readers who the main character would be or what the setting or plot would be if someone wrote a story about what is happening in the parking lot right now. Second graders can name something they see that has two syllables or a long “a” in it. Third and fourth graders can describe what they see at the bank in detail (character’s thoughts, words, actions, settings, and events) while only using the word “and” once. Ask for responses in complete sentences (or at times, ask for a fragment or run-on response, just so the child learns the difference). Teach your child to summarize his or her day by telling you the main idea of what happened at school today. This is just one complete sentence that names the character(s), setting, and problem or interesting event.
Teaching reading skills at home doesn’t have to be a painful kitchen table exercise where parents are exhausted and kids feel like a disappointment. Parents who use the above-mentioned steps can help make great strides in nurturing lifelong readers at home.
Kumar Sathy is an educator and author of “Attack of the Chicken Nugget Man: A National Test Prep Adventure.”
Published: January 2013
- Bedwetting Qualms
- The Battle: Dressing Your Kids
- Keeping Kids Safe When Home Alone
- Dogs Help Children Learn to Read
- Taking the “Step” out of Stepmom
- Halloween Safety Tips
- Turn the Dreaded Dinner-time Into an Enjoyable One
- Stop the Decline in Academic and Social Skills in Boys
- San Diego Youth Leadership Programs
- Pack a Healthy Lunch for Your Child
Page 10 of 61