When I took Mr. Senior 2013 out of public school for the short time he was in Kindergarten and started homeschooling him again, I realized that he had changed from adoring his reading time to abhorring it.
So today, in what you’ve got to know about teaching reading comprehension, I will share some surefire ways to rekindle the love of reading and more importantly to help your child understand what he is reading.
Reading Material Matters. I am always astounded at how children naturally figure things out and they know when something they are reading matters. One book I had chosen to focus on my son’s reading comprehension was called Bags The Lamb.
Okay, not very inspiring title and so I soon learned that my first mistake in helping my son to care about what he was reading was to make it matter. One stepping stone to having your child lap up reading is to give him a meaningful purpose.
For Mr. Senior 2013 that meant reading a comic book or a non-fiction book about science or history. If you are using a reading program that has dry, boring books that do not matter to your child, then use a book they choose so it matters to them. This is the first step to encouraging them to make meaning of what they are reading.
A Skillful Teacher Models the Process. Then there is one pet peeve of mine that we unknowingly do in a lot of subjects that we teach and that is somehow by osmosis we expect our kids to know what we want.
I too made this mistake in thinking my son knew how to skim the material, ask questions silently and look for answers in reading material.
Switching my approach, I focused on one paragraph in the book that he chose and talked out loud while he was sitting with me. I would continue to talk out loud asking who is this character or I would say this reminds me of so and so whom we both know.
In talking out loud, I was helping my son to make a connection with what he knew right now and otherwise question what he was reading.
He soon learned that it was okay to have questions and that questions are the beginning to understanding what he was reading. It is not necessary to
have all the questions answered, which is what Mr. Senior 2013 was doing.
Reading comprehension is about weighing and identifying facts though not always having the answers until the end of the story.
Slow Down Mama! Another mistake I was making was allowing my kindergartener to read the whole story in one gulp. What good did that do him if he didn’t understand the first paragraph?
He had me fooled because he was such a good reader, never mind the fact that he didn’t understand too much of what he read. I realized he was hyper focused on rapid reading and correct pronunciation instead of understanding what he was reading.
No wonder he didn’t like reading at the time because it became more about reciting meaningless chants instead of savoring the satisfaction that comes from filling his mind about the fascinating world around him.
From that time on, I assigned my 1:1 reading time with him for just one or two paragraphs each day. Implementing my tip on modeling the process, I read the paragraph or two aloud the first time. Pausing at commas, and emphasizing important words by the inflection in my voice helped him to see how he should be reading. This tip significantly improved his reading comprehension in the first few months.
Besides forming a close bond with him, to this day he has never forgotten the warm fuzzy feeling that comes from understanding what he is reading.
The rest of the day as a Kindergartener he spent with alone reading time, but I could hear him off in the room practicing some of what I had modeled.
By taking this 1:1 crucial time with him, my reader who once loved reading prior to sending him to public school returned to a love of reading.
Visualize and Imagine. Too, I had not tapped into my son’s love of visualization. Boys especially need to use this strategy. Again, he was a very visual person, but I had not helped him to see that he needed to use that strength to visualize the characters or place.
I had read somewhere that we should teach them like it’s a movie going on in their head. It’s true. I helped him to see that if he could picture what a character wore, how he sounded when he talked and where he lived that those things would add to his understanding of what he was reading. It worked. Simply explaining that to my son and helping him to make that connection was all he needed to rapidly improve his reading comprehension.
I learned again that we need to tell and give our kids those strategies specifically instead of thinking or assuming they learn those things by absorbing them. Too, let them turn their imagination loose even if you don’t see a fact in the reading for their imagined thought. Just the fact they are imagining shows they are attempting to make connections with what they are reading. It adds to the intrinsic value too of making reading a lifelong habit.
Too, don’t break down every reading lesson into a chore, but choose carefully when you want to apply the strategies above. In the beginning, I did it every day, but after a few weeks, I applied these strategies about 3x a week so that it didn’t become boring. Remember, changing from repeating words or phrases over and over again because a child may be intensely focused on phonics or how-to ready instead of meaning takes time to slowly change.
Many children are afraid in the sense they think they are not pleasing you if they don’t read rapidly. Every bit of time I have put into helping Mr. Senior 2013 slow down and absorb what he was reading had paid off with tremendous benefits to him as a young adult now.
On many days, he reads more than I do and my heart leaps because of his fondness for reading knowing he has carried this into adulthood. There is nothing more satisfying to me as the teacher!! Give one or two of these tips a try and you’ll see improvement.
Hugs and love ya,
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