Monday, July 12, 2010
If your child is out of the phonics instruction stage, but you still want to help him increase his reading and comprehension skills this summer, do not overlook the simple act of reading WITH your child.
You may desire to have your student read aloud to you each day and discuss it. This simple fifteen minute act can do wonders to help a child build his reading skills.
Here are some tips for reading with your child to help build his reading fluency:
1. Take turns reading—you read a page, then he reads a page.
2. Take turns reading—you read a paragraph, then he reads a paragraph.
3. Take turns reading certain characters. This works better if you each have a copy of the book and the book contains a lot of dialogue, but it can be a fun way to read together AND keep your child’s interest high as his mind cannot wander while he waits on his turn to read (since you will likely be going back and forth frequently with dialogue).
4. Focus on discussion rather than questions. Generally speaking, when a worksheet or curriculum asks your child questions at the end of a reading, it is TESTING your child, not helping him build comprehension. (The exception to this is if the questions tell the student where in the text to look for the answers, instruct him to notice certain parts of a word to build vocabulary (i.e. circle the prefix re in a word), help him learn after he answers the question by explaining the answer, etc.) Thus, simply asking your child questions without explanations is testing him, not teaching him.
5. Consider some of the following after your reading in order to build comprehension:
a. Discuss what you have just read—what did he like, what did you like, why, etc. Through discussion, you will have a chance to TEACH. For example, if you say that you liked a certain character because he found humor in everyday situations. Then you will have the opportunity to tell when in the book or what was happening when the character found humor. That is building comprehension at the highest levels (motivation of a character’s actions; possibly predicting outcomes, etc.). Much better than rote answers to questions.
b. If you ask him questions, be ready to help him learn from the answers, right or wrong. For example, if you ask him why he thinks the neighbor did not like the kids in the neighborhood and he does not have an answer, don’t just say, “Because the neighbor was angry.” Instead say, “I think it’s because the neighbor had been through so many bad things that he was bitter. Remember how it said that his wife died years ago…” Just answering comprehension questions does not give our kids tools to use in the next reading situation they are in—discussing the answers does.
c. Let him ask you questions—alternate. Again, your answers and how you found them (especially why you answered the way you did) will help build his comprehension better than if he just did a worksheet with questions.
More on building comprehension in days to come—but for now, just start in…read what your child loves, share it together, discuss it, and enjoy it. You will grow in your “teaching skills” as you share books together.