Let’s talk about reading and ways to make reading more enjoyable and be a bit smoother for your children. The ideas in today’s column are not just for little kids, but can also be helpful for older readers who don’t like reading or struggle with reading in general. Some of these tips might just help you help them. As a former teacher, I saw how older children may have not grasped the basic ideas on how to read smoothly or just enjoy reading and some of these ideas may help them rethink their negativity about reading.
On the site from Scholastic – https://www.scholastic.com/parents/books-and-reading/reading-resources/developing-reading-skills/improve-reading-comprehension.html They have six ideas that I really liked. Check it out and see what you think.
“Developing reading comprehension skills is incredibly important for growing readers, starting as early as picture books. As children get older, it will help them understand textbooks, newspapers, and other more complex texts.”
1. Have them read aloud. This encourages them to go slower, which gives them more time to process what they read and in turn improves reading comprehension. Plus, they’re not only seeing the words — they’re hearing them, too! You can also take turns reading aloud.
2. Provide books at the right level. Make sure your child gets lots of practice reading books that aren’t too hard. They should recognize at least 90 percent of the words without any help. Stopping any more often than that to figure out a word makes it tough for kids to focus on the overall meaning of the story.
If your child needs help transitioning from picture books to chapter books, try Scholastic’s Branches books, which are designed to bridge that gap for growing readers.
3. Reread to build fluency. To gain meaning from text and encourage reading comprehension, your child needs to read quickly and smoothly — a skill known as fluency. By the beginning of 3rd grade, for example, your child should be able to read 90 words a minute.
Rereading familiar, simple books gives your child practice at decoding words quickly, so they’ll become more fluent in their reading comprehension. Learn more about the multiple benefits of rereading books!
4. Talk to the teacher. If your child is struggling with reading comprehension, they may need more help with building their vocabulary or practicing phonics skills. (Peppa Pig Phonics Box Set and this PAW Patrol Phonics Box Set are fun ways to help your child build necessary phonics skills.) A teacher can weigh in on the best next steps to take.
5. Supplement their class reading. If your child’s class is studying a particular theme, look for easy-to-read books or magazines on the topic. Some prior knowledge will help them make their way through tougher classroom texts and promote reading comprehension.
6. Talk about what they’re reading. This “verbal processing” helps them remember and think through the themes of the book. Ask questions before, during, and after a session to encourage reading comprehension. (Read about all the questions you should ask during story time here!) For example:
Before: “What are you interested in about this book? What doesn’t interest you?”
During: “What’s going on in the book? Is it turning out the way you thought it would? What do you think will happen next?”
After: “Can you summarize the book? What did you like about it? What other books does it remind you of?”
On the site Understood – https://www.understood.org/articles/en/7-tips-to-help-kids-understand-what-they-read they have some good ideas especially about kids understanding what they have read, which will not only help their reading skills, but help them when reading other texts.
What helps kids understand what they read? Being an active reader is key. That means focusing on the text, questioning it, and taking mental notes. You can work on these skills with your child at home. Use these seven tips to help improve your child’s reading comprehension .
1. Make connections.
When kids connect what they already know to what they read, it helps them focus. Show your child how to make connections when you read aloud. If a book mentions places you’ve been to with your child, talk about those memories. Then have your child give it a try.
2. Ask questions.
Asking questions encourages kids to look for clues in the text. When you read together, ask questions to spark your child’s curiosity. Ask things like “What do you think will happen?” or “How is that character feeling?”
3. Make “mind movies.”
Visualizing helps bring a story to life. That’s where mind movies come in. When you read with your child, describe what the scene looks like in your head. Talk about how it makes you feel. You can use other senses, too. For example, if the scene takes place outside, what does it smell like?
Then invite your child to make a mind movie, too. Point out how your child’s movie is different from yours. If your child likes to draw or color, encourage your child to make a picture of the scene, too.
4. Look for clues.
When you combine what you already know with clues from a story, you can make guesses or predictions. These are inferences. And making them is a great way to build reading comprehension.
For example, when we read “Kim’s eyes were red and nose was runny,” we can infer that Kim has a cold or allergies. Help your child do this as you read. If a character is wearing gym clothes and sweating, ask your child what the character might have been doing before.
5. Figure out what’s important.
Ask your child: Who are the main characters? What’s the most important thing that has happened in the story so far? What problem are the characters trying to solve? When kids can point out what’s important, they’re more likely to understand what they read.
Your child can also use a tool called a graphic organizer to do this. A “story element” organizer keeps track of the main characters, where the story is taking place, and the problem and solution of the story.
6. Check understanding.
It helps to encourage kids to stop and ask themselves, “Is this making sense?” If your child gets stuck, suggest rereading the part that didn’t make sense. What about it was confusing? Were there specific words that tripped your child up?
7. Try new things.
The more kids know about the world, the more they can get meaning out of what they read. You don’t have to take an expensive trip or go to a museum to do this, though. You can expand kids’ background knowledge and vocabulary in lots of ways.
Shooting hoops or watching a baseball game can help your child connect more with books about sports.
Reading is such a great way to spend quality time with your child even when they get older. Some of my fondest memories are when my mom read with us at night and my boys still remember the reading at night before they went to bed.
I will continue for a few weeks to do things for the beginning of the school year, that will be focused on back to the basics.
Let me know any ideas you have or what you would like to see and I’ll get right on it for you. Email me at [email protected]
Remember to be kind and love each other and continue to set a good example for our children. See you next week with new ideas and ways to help your children or ideas that may help you as you raise your children in some way.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928
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