Kindergarten students are both learning how to read and how to comprehend what they read. QAR, Question-Answer Relationships, is a research-based teaching strategy that helps students develop comprehension skills. Strong comprehension skills in kindergarten give students a great start on the building blocks needed for lifelong reading.

Basics of QAR

QAR was developed by Taffy Raphael, a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago and author of many books on literacy. In this approach to reading comprehension, students are taught to recognize four types of questions: Right there questions can be found right in the text and are often who, what, when or where questions. Think and search questions are also found in the text but require piecing together information given by the author. Author and you questions require the reader to use background information or give opinions based on information in the text. On my own questions ask the reader to answer based on prior knowledge but do not require information found in the text.

Modifications for Kindergarten

Read-aloud sessions provide an opportunity to focus on the QAR strategy.
Read-aloud sessions provide an opportunity to focus on the QAR strategy.

Small adjustments should be made when using QAR in kindergarten. Kindergarten students are still learning how to read so use read-aloud books either in a whole-group or small-group setting. Rather than focusing on four different types of questions, it is recommended that questions be combined into two types: "in my head" questions and "in the book" questions. For "in my head" questions, teach students to look for the words how and why. Students will need to do their own thinking rather than looking for the answer in the text. "In the text" questions usually have the words who, what, when, or where. Students should go back to the text to find these answers

Implementation in the Classroom

The QAR strategy can be introduced to the whole group using a read-aloud book, with follow up in small groups. Keep the text short to hold the students' attention. Introduce the QAR strategy beginning with "in the text" questions because they are usually easier for students to grasp. After reading a text together present students with different "in the text" questions. Answer these questions together showing how the answers can be found right in the text. You can highlight key question words to look for such as who, what, when, and where. When students have this type of question mastered, move on to "in my head" questions. This time you should stress that the answers cannot be found by looking back in the text. It is necessary for the reader to use background knowledge to answer the questions. Students can look for the words how or why. After both have been introduced, students can identify which type of question is being asked and then answer the question. They can also make up their own questions.

Benefits of QAR

Research has shown that using QAR improves students’ comprehension. Students enjoy learning about the QAR strategy, and kindergarten children are able to understand and apply it. When students are taught using this strategy, they are able to answer questions related to what they have read more accurately. A strong foundation of comprehension gives kindergarten students a great boost in later grades.