5 SIMPLE STEPS TO ENGAGE YOUR CHILD AND BUILD COMPREHENSION DURING READING
“I didn’t know I was supposed to ask him questions.”
That was almost thirteen years ago since that conversation in the hallway. Kelly (names changed for privacy reasons) worked in maintenance, and we stopped briefly in the hall, where I taught at the time, to talk about her son. His teacher shared with her that her son was struggling with reading comprehension. She raced through the story as she explained to me how she always read to him when he was younger. Unfortunately, there was one read-aloud element that she never did, one that experts would say is essential to building a great reader.
It’s under the umbrella of comprehension, asking questions. You will never know if your child understands what they are reading or you are reading to them if you fail to engage them in the story.
Your child is never too young to “teach” them how to interact with the story or whatever they’re reading or being read aloud.
Here are five easy steps you can do at home during read-alouds or books you read together:⠀
1. Look at the cover and read the title⠀
2. Take a picture walk through the book. If there aren’t any pictures, read the synopsis inside the front cover or back of the book.
3. Casually model for your child how to ask questions about the story before reading. For example, “I wonder how she lost her bear.” “What would you do if you lost your bear?” “Why won’t anyone help her find her bear?” “Do you think it’s gone forever?”⠀
4. Read the story and stop to talk about any answers to the questions you find. Develop new questions as you read.
5. After reading, talk about the story with your child. Ask them about their favorite parts (if they are old enough to verbally respond); what they think might have happened if there were more to the story; if they could change the end of the story, what would happen. ⠀
Not only does this also build comprehension, but it helps them to remember what they read.
Your conversation before, during, and after the story should feel and sound natural. Be mindful not to make it feel forced, uncomfortable, or like an interrogation. Relax. It’s just a teachable moment woven into their everyday reading. These are unforgettable reading footprints you want them to cherish forever.
Tag me on Instagram or Facebook and let me know how this went for you after you’ve tried it a few times.
Happy (and Much Successful) Reading!