Supporting Reading Comprehension Skills at Home

March 23, 2010 at 11:53 pm Leave a comment

Reading with your child is a wonderful way to promote development of comprehension and receptive language skills.  The following tips are intended to give you some guidelines for enhancing comprehension of stories at home.  Keep in mind, that books your child can read the words to (or decode) are not always at the same level of what he or she is capable of understanding.  For that reason, it is important to read decodable books as well as read to him or her books that might be more challenging for your child to read but demonstrate more sophisticated language structures and vocabulary.

~Before Reading~

State or discuss the topic of the book with your child.

Make connections to personal experiences with the topic.  This will help your child activate prior knowledge he or she may have about the topic of the story and facilitate his or her connection with the story.  For example, if reading a book about the beach, you might say, “Remember when we went to the beach last summer?  It was so hot outside and we built sand castles and wore our bathing suits.  What did we see at the beach?”

Look at the cover of the book and make a prediction about what the story might be about.  Focus on the idea of predicting rather than requiring an accurate or logical prediction.  Then ask your child, “Why do you think it will be about…?”  Provide a sentence starter if needed, such as “I think the book will be about…”

Take a “Picture Walk”. Quickly flip through the pages of the story without reading the words and talk about what you see.  Modify your child’s prediction and point out explicit reasons for those changes, i.e., “Look a sail boat.  Maybe they will go on a boat ride in the story.”

~While Reading~

Read the words. Then stop and look at the pictures.  Point out illustrations that show implied information, or information that is not explicitly stated, such as the feelings or reaction of a character.

Ask questions about information that was just read.  Who, what, where and why questions can be formulated about information that was read in the story or seen in the pictures.  For example, “Who dropped the cake?”

Ask your child retell or restate what has happened in the story periodically.  Flip back through the pages so the child will have access to the pictures to promote their retell.

If your child has difficulty expressively, ask a question and then provide a sentence starter, such as, “Uh-oh what a … (mess)”.

~After Reading~

Ask your child to show and tell you his or her favorite part of the story and then explain why he or she enjoyed it.

Have your child retell the whole story or ask him or her about something that happened in the beginning, middle and end.  Help him or her formulate the language if needed (“First Bob and Mom went…”).

Make further connections between the story and a personal experience or another story you have read.

Use interesting or new vocabulary in daily activities.  For example, if the book talks about a “buoy,” when you go to the beach, point out the buoy and remind your child about the story you read.

Read the story again! Re-reading stories enhances children’s understanding of not only the content, but the details, vocabulary and story structure.

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Supporting Expressive Language Skills at Home

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