March is reading month and the perfect time to start working on building your children’s comprehension is before they even learn to read. If children aren’t retaining information from what they are hearing being read or reading themselves, they are missing out on the best part of literacy.
Here are some simple tips to teach children how to comprehend what they are hearing and reading. Remember the tips below work in both situations: YOU reading to your child or YOUR CHILD reading on his own.
- Ask Questions before, during and after your child has read the story.
- Visualize what’s happening. Have children close their eyes and try to picture what they are hearing.
- Activate Prior Knowledge. If you are reading a book about zebras, talk about what your child might already know about the animal.
- Make Connections. There are three types of connections; text-to-self, text-to-text and text-to-world. In a text-to-self connection, children might relate to the book because they have experienced something similar to the main character, like becoming a big sister! Text-to-text is when readers are reminded of another story they may have heard. Such as connecting two books that are both about becoming a big sister! Finally, there are text-to-world connections. If the summer Olympics are taking place and you are reading a book about a turtle who runs in a race, you might stop and say, “That reminds me of watching the Olympics with you and seeing the runner win a gold medal!” Making connections is a great way to retain an understanding of the book’s message and events.
- Determine the Importance. As your children hears the story, stop and think aloud with them. When a child walks away from a story, it’s important to look back and remember the author’s message or the theme that was presented. If the book is non-fiction, what were some facts the child learned about the subject?
- Inferences. There are some fabulous clues in picture books hidden not only in illustrations but in the text too. Model making predictions with your child as you read. I tell students that inferring is making a smart guess as to what might happen next. Use either your prior knowledge or information you heard in the story to make your prediction.
- Summarize. Discuss story elements such as characters, setting, problem, solution and the sequence of events. Practice retelling the story with your child.
—— Maria Dismondy, mother of two, reading specialist, fitness instructor and bestselling children’s author living in Southeast Michigan
To see read more posts by Maria and about literacy, click the Literacy tag.