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Bright Ideas Curricula and Books Lesson Ideas

Questions Help Your Young Child Develop Comprehension Skills

There is a big difference between being able to read individual words and being able to comprehend what you read, and this is one of the common issues older readers struggle with. One of the best ways to prevent issues with comprehension is to help your young child develop comprehension skills by asking questions while you’re reading to them.

Relax…we’re not talking about grilling them about plot development or character motivation. After all, “Very Hungry Caterpillar” doesn’t exactly have subplot or a source of conflict. But there are questions you can ask your child as you read it that will encourage them to think about what what the words mean on another level. For example:

  • “The caterpillar in the story likes strawberries. Do you like strawberries?”
  • “Do you think a pickle and a cupcake would taste good if you ate them at the same time?”
  • “Did the caterpillar eat more on Tuesday or Thursday?”
  • “Would it be fun to wrap yourself in a blanket like a caterpillar in a¬†cocoon?”
  • “Why do you think the caterpillar was so hungry?”

Obviously, these are very simple questions–mostly yes/no, and mostly subjective. But they help your child relate to the characters (or animals) in the books you are reading and make connections between the story and their own lives. Try to keep it fun and silly, and if your child needs help with questions that have right and wrong answers give them a little nudge. For instance, if they answer that the caterpillar ate more on Tuesday than Thursday, or if they aren’t sure, help them out by giving them a strategy to find the right answer: “Let’s count and find out!”

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Articles My Humble Opinion

Previously On…

I admit it. I’m a TV junkie. I like to think I watch in moderation, but I probably watch too much. I know that fact may seem to contradict what we’re advocating here, but I can’t help it. And I actually noticed something helpful about television a few weeks ago when Ana was explaining a reading strategy to me. The strategy we were discussing is summarizing. I’m not the reading expert, so I’ll let her take you through the specifics of summarizing, why it’s important, and how to employ it, but I quickly realized that it is a strategy used in television all the time.

Most of my favorite shows are running series like Lost that develop characters and stories over weeks and years. One thing every episode of these shows has in common is that they all begin with a “Previously on…” segment that summarizes what has happened so far. As Ana points out in her article on summarizing, there’s a very good reason for this–it gives us a chance to get caught up very quickly so we can pay attention and absorb the new material.

Again, I’ll leave the coaching of this strategy to Ana, but I thought I’d point out a way that this strategy is commonly used in another medium. I’ve always appreciated the “Previously on…” segments of television shows. Besides reminding me of what has happened in previous episodes, they’re also effective in setting the mood for what I’m about to watch. Whenever I pick up a book I’m working on, especially if it’s fiction, I almost always skim a few paragraphs I covered in my last reading session just to give myself a quick reminder of where I was and to get my mind back into story.

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Articles Must Reads Research Says Teaching Methods

Comprehension

Comprehension is THE ultimate goal of reading! Everything we teach our kids in reading is so that they will end up having comprehension, or an understanding of what they read. We spend so much time learning how to read just to get to the point where we can read to learn. Comprehension = knowledge. But just because comprehension is our ultimate goal doesn’t mean that you need to wait till your kids are older or have “mastered” everything else in reading before you teach it.