When teaching children how to become effective readers, model for them how to take steps to ensure they understand what they are reading. After modeling these steps, have them practice their newly learned skills as independently as possible, providing guidance as needed.
Below are three strategies you can teach a child to ensure his comprehension of material.
Have the child think about what the topic of the book is. He can study text features to determine the topic. Text features can include:
- the title
- the snippets on the front and back of the book
- the table of contents
- pictures such as illustrations or photos
- labels and captions on pictures
- words in the book that are in bold
- summaries at the end of a chapter or back of the book
Once he determines the topic, have him say it aloud to you.
Next, have him think about the organization of the text structure. For example: Is it providing a description of something? Is it a sequence of events? Are two or more ideas being compared and contrasted? Is there a presented problem with a solution? Sometimes it can be a combination of more than one of these.
Have him monitor his own comprehension while he reads.
He should be asking himself the following questions:
- Did I understand the sentence or paragraph I just read?
- What message is the author trying to get across in this passage?
- Can I connect this sentence or paragraph to something in my own life or to my own knowledge? If so, what?
- What can I predict will happen next based on what I just read?
Also, teach the child the concept of using context clues to figure out words he does not know. To effectively use on context clues, the child must read and understand the surrounding words to determine an unknown word.
Although it can take a lot of time, another great strategy is to have the child write a sentence or paragraph in his own words to really drive home the meaning.
Teach the child to write down questions that he has about the text when reading independently. If he cannot figure something by using context clues or looking up words, he can ask an adult later.
After the child finishes reading, teach him how to reflect on the strategies he used, to determine which ones helped him understand the text. If he knows what strategies worked best for him, he can try to use them on his own next time, only asking you questions as needed. Have him write down the strategies that he thought helped so he can utilize them when reading independently.
Visit our informational/self-help books section of the Wise Market where we have books for teaching reading comprehension.
Our recommended books are:
Guiding Readers and Writers (Grades 3-6): Teaching, Comprehension, Genre, and Content Literacy
Strategies that Work:Teaching Comprehension for Understanding and Engagement
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