Reading comprehension begins before a child even opens the books and continues after she puts it down. Reading comprehension activities begin with prediction and purposeful strategies children employ when they pick up a book. Similar strategies help them understand the text while they're reading. Post-reading strategies help children make meaning of the text and synthesize the information. Parents easily can reinforce these strong reading habits at home.
As soon as children have books in their hands, they should start interacting with the stories or topics. The first step is to activate their prior knowledge. One activity is the "picture walk," or looking at all the pictures to get an idea of the topic. Once they have a general idea about the topic, they are ready for the next activity. They predict what the story will be about, which they can do easily with a parent at home. As they read the book, they check if their prediction is correct. Pre-reading strategies connect children to the passages, thus ensuring they are more engaged during the reading.
The major work of understanding a passage comes during the reading. Strong readers regularly monitor their own comprehension, pausing to ask themselves if they understand what they are reading. As a comprehension activity, students should pause periodically and describe the pictures in their minds. They even can sketch it. An effective reading activity is having children "say something." They partner-read, with a parent or even a sibling, stopping regularly to "say something" by making a connection or posing a question about the passage. Such strategies keep them interacting with the text, thereby reinforcing their understanding.
Many activities exist for students to extend their comprehension after finishing a text. First, they can answer questions or even pose their own questions. Another idea is to have them identify the main ideas and supporting details. Teachers often use graphic organizers to help the students remember the flow of events. Summarizing the story also helps students synthesize their knowledge. Reading specialist Kylene Beers developed an activity in which students reformulate the text into a different type. For instance, they turn a short story into an article or a nonfiction passage into a poem. Parents can turn the text reformulation activity into a game at home.
Tips for Parents
Parents have a significant impact on their children's reading success. First, children need access to a lot of books, either from the library or their own collection. Parents also need to set the ground rules for how much time their children devote to reading. The recommended amount of time increases with age. Additionally, children learn reading strategies at school. While reading at home, they should practice the strategies. A fun activity for practicing the strategies is allowing the children to "teach" them to their parents during reading time. Ultimately, when parents take an active interest in their children's reading by asking them to summarize or make predictions, the young readers are more likely to enjoy success.
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