A bi-weekly column on Fredericksburg.Today by Elizabeth Colon, Above Grade Level in-home tutoring.
Many of my blog posts are written because I see a trend in the assessments completed by students in need of tutoring. Lately, I have seen an increasing number of students who are struggling with reading comprehension.
Reading is the foundation for all subject matter.
Science, history, math, geography … all subjects require the student to read, comprehend and answer questions in order to master the content.
Before we can improve reading comprehension, we have to prioritize reading. Here are a few ideas to start:
- Set up a reading corner/ area/ chair — who doesn’t love a safe place to kick back and relax.
- Make sure you have various types of books available: Fun fiction and non-fiction about hobbies and interests.
- Set a time for reading every day.
- Be a good role model. Make sure your child sees you reading, and always use positive language about reading.
Now that you’ve prioritized reading, here are some tips to improve comprehension:
- Have your student use sticky notes while reading. Ask him/her to pause and write down any thoughts he/she has about the book. It could be a question about the characters or something that doesn’t make sense. Your child will place the sticky note next to the content in question. The goal is for your student to identify areas he/she doesn’t understand well, so you can explain and review them together.
- You can also have him/her write in a journal. This allows you to keep a log of your child’s thought progression as he/she reads the same text night to night. He/she will write down questions or thoughts about the book. The goal is the same as above: You want your child to identify areas he/she doesn’t understand, so you can explain and review them together.
- Encourage your child to ask questions about the book that connect him/her to the text and the world. Lead his/her thinking by starting the conversation with questions like: Who do you know like this character? Have you ever met someone like this before? Who and why are they alike? What qualities do you like and dislike in this character? Why? What would you change about this story? What lesson can we learn from this?
- When your child finds an unknown word, ask him/her to think about what the word might mean given the context of the story. Have him/her look for known words inside the unknown word for clues about the meaning. Have your child keep track of words he/she doesn’t know or understand. When he/she has collected the unknown words from a book, have him/her use both a paper dictionary and online dictionary to define them — this will give hands on practice at referencing resources. Ask, “Was your definition the same as the dictionary? If not, what was different about the definitions?” Re-read the book and ask your child to define those terms again.
Many of you have children who do not like to read. Reading doesn’t have to be static. As you can see, it can be an interactive process. Try the suggestions above.
I would love your feedback about your child’s engagement after you’ve put these suggestions into practice. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Columns on Fredericksburg.Today are recurrent features on specific topics or by regular contributors. Guest writers present their own point-of-view and may not necessarily represent the viewpoint of Fredericksburg.Today.