When your child begins kindergarten, he will learn beginning reading skills, such as alphabet recognition, rhyming and segmenting sounds in words. The teacher will introduce reading comprehension strategies at the same time. She will start with strategies such as looking at the pictures in a book or listening carefully when she reads aloud. Once your child begins reading, the teacher will demonstrate other methods for understanding the text. You can use these same strategies at home to help your child increase his reading comprehension.
Kindergarten teachers read to their students every day for several purposes. They know that young children like stories and nursery rhymes, but they also know that they can use these types of literature to build comprehension skills. You can use the same methods when reading to your child. Before reading, get your child to look at the cover of the book. Ask her whether anything in the picture reminds her of something or someone. After you read, talk about the main idea of the book and ask again. Sometimes a child can relate the book to something that happened to her. As you read more books, your child should be able to make connections between two or more similar books. Making connections is a strategy that will help your child comprehend more easily because the story will remind her of other familiar events, people or books.
Predicting is a strategy kindergarten teachers use all the time. This strategy engages the students in the reading process. If the teacher asks them to make a prediction based on the cover of the book or the pictures inside, their curiosity is piqued, which motivates them to listen attentively. When you are reading to your child or he reads to you, ask him to predict what the story will be about; then stop him before the end of the book and ask him to predict the ending. See whether he can explain why he made this prediction.
Questioning is another comprehension strategy. Asking your child questions about a book she has read at school or one you are reading with her will help her retain important information. Ask a variety of questions. Some should be basic recall questions about the setting, names of characters and main events in the story. Then progress to questions that require critical thinking. For example, ask your child to tell you why she likes or doesn't like the book. Ask her to imagine that she is one of the characters in the story. Would she react the same, or would she solve the problem differently? Hopefully, these type of questions will solidify the book in your child's mind because she has analyzed it thoroughly.
Retelling is a comprehension strategy that helps a child learn to summarize. This skill is necessary throughout school and career, and you can begin teaching your child now. Ask your child to tell you about books he has read at school. You may need to prompt for details by asking, "What comes next?" or "Can you tell me more about the boy in the story?" If your child becomes proficient in retelling, he will remember details and be able to recall them later.
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