Parents Can Foster Their Child’s Reading Comprehension

Parents Can Foster Their Child’s Reading Comprehension

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In New Jersey elementary schools, every child gets at least 45 minutes of reading instruction every day. Very often, children spend a great deal more than 45 minutes reading daily. But,
In New Jersey elementary schools, every child gets at least 45 minutes of reading instruction
every day. Very often, children spend a great deal more than 45 minutes reading daily. But,
for many children, that time is still not enough to become a competent reader. Numerous
teachers have turned to parents for assistance in helping their children become better
readers. Many instructional practices require specialized training. For example if your child
has difficulty recognizing and remembering words, a teacher best handles that problem. But
there are other instructional practices that parents can implement that have proven to be
easy to use and quite effective in helping children improve their comprehension abilities,
according to Dr. Nicholas DiObilda, chair of the Reading Department at Rowan University,
Glassboro.

Comprehension help is most effective when it follows a regular structure that is apparent to
the helper and the reader and when the reader is encouraged to actively think about the
material that is being read. One of the structures used by reading teachers is expressed
simply as Before, During and After. This means that something should activate thinking
before reading, during reading and after reading. When there is a structure to the activities,
the child learns that a systematic approach to a passage and active thinking will aid
comprehension. Parents easily can use several methods that combine before, during and
after activities. DiObilda, who holds a doctorate from Ohio State University and is a
published author on reading topics, suggests parents try any or all of the following
procedures to help their child become actively involved in reading a passage.

1. Predict. Look at the title and read the first paragraph together. Then ask the child to
predict what will be found in the passage. Read to determine if the predictions are correct,
stopping at various points to confirm, reject or modify the predictions. After reading, state
which predictions were good ones and why.

2. Sketch it. Have the child briefly look over the entire passage, giving special attention to
pictures, headings and words that stand out from the page. Close the book and ask the child
to draw a sketch of what will be found in the passage and to explain the sketch. As the child
reads, have him or her state aloud how the sketch might have to be changed. After reading,
fix the sketch to show the new version of the passage.

3. Know, Want, Learned. This time, the parent looks over the passage and names the topic
of the passage. For example the parent might say, <+>This passage is about planets.<+> Then the
parent asks the child to tell three to five things he or she already knows about the topic.
Parent and child can make a written list of what the child already knows. Then the parent
asks the child to list three to five things he or she wants to know. The passage is then read to
determine if the child’s questions have been answered. After reading, the parent and child
can discuss what was learned by reading the passage. For fun, the parent can keep a
separate list of what the parent already knows before reading, wants to know during reading
and has learned after reading.

4. Play question ping pong. Read the first paragraph of a passage together, then close the
book. Tell your child to ask you a question about the passage. Try to answer it as best as
you can. Open the book and read another paragraph or two. Have a discussion of whether
or not the question was answered by the passage. Then you ask the child a question and the
child tries to answer. Read the following paragraphs to determine if the question was
answered. Take turns reading, asking, answering and confirming. Always discuss how
helpful the text was in answering the questions.

5. Pick a sentence. Before reading, look over the whole passage. Let your child decide
how to divide the passage into segments. Read each segment and have the child select a
sentence that captures the essence of that segment. Write each sentence on a card. Discuss
the reasons for the selection. After reading, reexamine the sentences to determine their value
in expressing the ideas of the passage. Add other sentences about the passage dictated by
your child or volunteered by yourself. Tell why those sentences are needed to express the
ideas of the passage.