There is a big difference between being able to read individual words and being able to comprehend what you read, and this is one of the common issues older readers struggle with. One of the best ways to prevent issues with comprehension is to help your young child develop comprehension skills by asking questions while you’re reading to them.
Relax…we’re not talking about grilling them about plot development or character motivation. After all, “Very Hungry Caterpillar” doesn’t exactly have subplot or a source of conflict. But there are questions you can ask your child as you read it that will encourage them to think about what what the words mean on another level. For example:
- “The caterpillar in the story likes strawberries. Do you like strawberries?”
- “Do you think a pickle and a cupcake would taste good if you ate them at the same time?”
- “Did the caterpillar eat more on Tuesday or Thursday?”
- “Would it be fun to wrap yourself in a blanket like a caterpillar in a cocoon?”
- “Why do you think the caterpillar was so hungry?”
Obviously, these are very simple questions–mostly yes/no, and mostly subjective. But they help your child relate to the characters (or animals) in the books you are reading and make connections between the story and their own lives. Try to keep it fun and silly, and if your child needs help with questions that have right and wrong answers give them a little nudge. For instance, if they answer that the caterpillar ate more on Tuesday than Thursday, or if they aren’t sure, help them out by giving them a strategy to find the right answer: “Let’s count and find out!”
Reading Kits are something really cool and easy that you can make for your kids. Even if your kids are good readers, these kits can really enhance your literacy instruction while making it lots of fun for your child! They can be used to boost vocabulary instruction, make note of clues during reading, help kids visualize things, and much more!
Reading Kits can include:
- highlighters and highlighting tape
- sticky notes
- color markers
- pens and pencils
- index cards
Here are some quick ideas on how to use the reading kits:
- Color Coded Highlighters can be used by your child to highlight words they don’t know or interesting passages that he/she likes. You can use a different color to go through and highlight vocab words you want your child to focus on, interesting characters, or sections of a chapter book that you’d like to discuss later. You can also do this with colored sticky notes if you don’t want to write in the book.
- Sticky Notes can be used by your child to write questions or thoughts about what they are reading. These can be used for discussion later. You can use them to write down your own questions or pointers that you want your child to think about while they read certain sections of a book – just write them ahead of time and place them on the pages throughout the book.
- Index Cards have lots of uses! Have your child write short sentences, phrases, or even pictures on the cards to summarize a paragraph or page. You can assign sections of a book for your child to write retells or reactions to something in the story (an event, character analyzation, a prediction, etc.).
- Time Lines can also be made using index cards and sticky notes. Have your child make a time line of the events in a story/book (either with words or pictures or both). This really helps them with the comprehension skill of sequencing!
Reading Kits are really easy to put together, yet they can really make a difference in the way your child understands a book or text. Plus, they love to have their little “tools” while reading their book!