IS YOUR CHILD STRUGGLING WITH COMPREHENSION?
HERE'S HOW YOU CAN HELP
The first time I read Alice in Wonderland my daughter was in the fifth grade. Some people would probably be shocked because I was a former classroom teacher and I love reading. So, of course all teachers read the classics especially ones who are crazy about reading. Right? Wrong. Don’t misunderstand me. I have read some books considered classics and many that aren’t. Most of those were required reading in school. Most of the covers just didn’t draw me in. But this version, or cover, for Alice in Wonderland did.
I thought about how Alice was confused throughout the story and that made me think about kids who struggle with comprehension.
Poor little Alice didn’t have a clue sometimes.
First, she falls down a rabbit hole. Totally, her fault. Some people would say she was nosy. Really, she was just curious. But curiosity got the best of her. And you know what they say about curiosity? It KILLS! So, she kind of got off lucky. Even though I don’t believe in luck. Then, she had to deal with all those frustrating creatures & characters. And the Mad Hatter. Don’t even get me started! Needless to say, there were a few misunderstandings. Plus, Alice didn’t always catch the meaning of many signs along the way and had many misunderstood conversations in her ventures in the rabbit hole. Confusion, when kids are reading, leaves them lost just like Alice. That’s why comprehension is important – so kids understand what they’re reading. ⠀
So, here are some tips you can use to help them improve their comprehension:
1. Ask questions while you’re reading aloud to your kids – even if they are reading independently, they’re not too old for read-alouds. Ask what’s happening in the story. Ask why they think certain things happen in the story, when, why, where, and how questions.⠀
2. Help them make connections from characters, actions, & events in the story to the world, to people they know, to other characters, to other books.⠀For example you might say, “Alice reminds me of your friend Mia who’s always asking questions.”
3. Think aloud while you’re reading to them. For example, “I wonder why the queen wanted to chop off everyone’s heads” (that’s a little extreme, but it’s something to talking point) Talk about things that frustrate you in a story, or make you laugh & why, things that surprise you. Basically, if an idea, thought or question pops in your head about the story while you’re reading, say it out loud. ⠀⠀
4. Actively doodle during the story. Grab some Post-It’s or regular paper. And, as you or your child read, draw pictures of what they think a character looks like, a smiley face if something makes them laugh or happy, a question mark if something is confusing or they have a question, a sad face if it makes them sad. Emoji stickers would work for this activity too. Kids, of all ages, love stickers! ⠀
For kids who struggling with reading, try using a couple of these activities on a regular basis. For budding readers, kids learning to read and in the early reading stage, use questioning during every read-aloud. Add in the others occasionally.
This can help every young reader.
If you’re not doing this already, try it the next time you read and see how it goes.
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