I love hearing kids read, the excitement they have the first time they read that book to you goes down as one of the greatest memories of parenthood. I still remember the first time each of my girls read to me, I was one proud mama!
If you’ve been reading my past post you know I love telling stories to set the mood. So, this one won’t be any different. One of the biggest issues I see and hear parents do is only focusing on their child reading the actual words on each page. Hold up. Stop the presses. Reading just isn’t about knowing the words in a book. Your child must COMPREHEND what the book is about as well. I call kids that can read any word, but can’t tell you a thing they read, Phonetic Masters. They have mastered the art of phonetics and decoding. Nope, there’s nothing wrong with that, except when that child must test for a reading level. They may read 4th-grade level sight words, but can’t comprehend a kindergarten level book. What does this mean? It means the teacher will keep your child on a kindergarten level in reading. So, now what? Mom and Dad are upset because their child is in 1st grade and can read a 4th-grade book, but the teacher won’t budge. Yes, I’ve seen this happen. So, here comes the story……
A few years ago I met a lovely a mother that wanted to tear the head off her child’s teacher. Hmmmm…..I immediately tried escaping the scene, but I was stuck. That’s exactly what I get for being the talker that I am. LOL Anywho…..I stood there shocked and scared; no way did I want to be a witness to what was about to go down. So, me being me stood there patiently listening to the mother vent to the other parents around (you know, we try to find someone to co-sign with us). And of course, I was the only mother that verbally disagreed. Ohhhh…..that can be touchy sometimes, but a different perspective is needed from time to time. As soon as the mom said, “My CHILD knows all Dolch, Fry, and lists of sight words given by the school up to 4th grade”, I already knew what I was up against. As I took that step back to brace myself (just incase). I asked, “Do you talk about the books your child reads?” “NO! HE KNOWS ALL THE WORDS READ IN HIS BOOKS! HE KNOWS EVERY SINGLE WORD!” Yep, it was a wrap. Instead of walking away I shared the importance of the kid being able to understand what he read and not just the words in black and white. We talked about understanding who the book is about, vocabulary and using context clues to determine meanings, etc. That particular day, I was a savior to the teacher and gained a school drop-off buddy. As we walked together I shared a few ways I’ve helped my own children with reading comprehension.
How Do I Work On Reading Comprehension With My Child
Think about it; you tend to slow down a bit to pronounce your words as you read aloud. This also means your brain is slowing down a bit to gather all that useful information you’re saying. It’s also great practice for public speaking later in life. My kids use to love taking turns while reading the story. They read one page and I read the next, this got them talking about the story. Be sure you are reading books on their tested grade level, you can get this information from their teacher. I do believe in challenging children, so reading something that’s a little above their level to practice phonics and decoding is something we practice. These books are not our primary source of reading practice.
Answer Who, What, When, Where, How and Why:
When I work with my children and students, we ALWAYS answer these questions: who is the story about, what did they do, when did they do it or when did the story take place, where did the story take place or where did the character go, how did they do something and why did they do it. As I talk with young kids (pre-K – 2nd grade), we focus mainly on who, what and where. Characters are usually stated clearly in beginning readers, so this helps a child know who the story is about a little easier. It’s also pretty clear where the story is taken place; the park, school, etc. The what is usually pretty easy to figure out as well. When, How and Why may be a little confusing for them.
Retell The Story:
After reading a few pages stop to have the child retell you what they just read. Be sure they tell you in their own words. Yes, it’s ok for them to reference the book to get correct names. Keep them focused and direct with retelling you. This is an area that gets kids in trouble during testing. In a typical conversation we get incredibly detailed about our story, this tends to lead most of us off track (guilty), but it’s important for your child to understand the purpose of retelling a story to their teacher is for the teacher to know the child comprehends the story. And usually, the child is given a specific amount of time, so staying focused and on track is a MUST!
It’s never a race to see how quickly your child can move up levels in reading. Reading is like playing a sport, practice makes perfect. Read at least 20-30 minutes a day with your child. Ask questions as you read together and be sure to provide reading material for their appropriate reading level. I will do a post later about ways to make reading fun and some writing activities to go along with reading comprehension.
Know You, Be You, Love You
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