The next step to improving your child's reading
Comprehension is a complex and dynamic activity involving the reader, text and the context in which the reading occurs. Skilled readers demonstrate a facility with word identification, oral reading fluency and knowledge of vocabulary, and apply a variety of strategies to construct meaning from a range of text genres. During the past 20 years, research has demonstrated that explicit comprehension instruction can enable children to become thoughtful, strategic and independent learners.Children in primary schools engage in comprehension activities across the school curriculum each day. For many, however, their experience of comprehension is individual and silent, with the emphasis being on the location of the correct answer rather than on the construction of knowledge in a co-operative environment. MARTIN GLEESON
Reading is critical for success in school and in life and permeates much of what we do every day. It nourishes the imagination, enhances creativity and builds thinking skills and a child’s general knowledge.
Comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading. It is why we read, whether it’s for pleasure or for information. When we read with comprehension we forget about the individual words. Instead the words wash over us; we get lost in a story; we laugh; we cry; we see the story unfolding like a movie in our minds. If it’s a factual text we might get really excited by some new information that we have discovered.
All children should have the experience of finding books that they simply can’t put down and that help them discover the thrill of reading. So it is important that children develop a personal taste in reading from an early age and that they are encouraged to read widely. It is also important that reading is seen as a thinking process whereby text is open to interpretation. Children should have opportunities to question what they read, to wonder, agree, disagree, critique and evaluate ideas, and they should be encouraged to justify their thoughts with evidence from the text.
If your child has a problem with comprehension, the first thing you as a parent will probably pick up on is your child’s inability to summarise a passage after reading it.
In most cases, children with comprehension problems will have significant difficulty linking one idea to another within the text, and linking those ideas to events in their real lives.
Often they will struggle to explain a character’s thoughts or feelings, or empathise with a particular character. Distinguishing the important parts of the story from the minor details will also be a struggle. At a very basic level they may have difficulty understanding some of the vocabulary in a text. If you have noticed that your child has difficulty understanding the meaning of a text, in most cases they will have noticed that too. Unfortunately, there are no simple, quick-fix solutions, but you can certainly help.
Boost comprehension in 10 minutes a day
When it comes to comprehension, the best strategy is often one that is focused around 10 minutes of relaxed time, reading together, every day.
Make sure your child has chosen a book that they can read with 90 per cent accuracy and one that they find interesting. Use the five-finger rule: if there are more than five words on a page that your child struggles with, the book may be too difficult at this point in time. It would be best to choose an easier one.
The aim is to get your child thinking about what they’re going to read before they read it. Use some of these strategies every evening.
Get your child to choose the reading material. What are they in the mood for? Look at the cover and the title of the book. What do you think the book is about? What do you think will happen in the book? Or what do you think you’ll find out?