As early childhood teachers we often tell parents, particularly before their child is conventionally reading on their own, that the best thing that parent can do is read TO their child. For many families, this may seem obvious and they have been doing this since their child was a toddler, if not before.
But just reading to them doesn’t take advantage of the many ways their child could be learning even more. Comprehension is the goal, and the child will be learning this process when they begin to read on their own and work towards fluency.
There are ways the reader (parent) can enhance comprehension for their young learner by doing a few specific things, before the child ever receives explicit reading instruction:
- Read the book yourself first. This allows you to be familiar with the story so you can ask informed questions of your child.
- Have in your mind the questions you will ask.
Have your child:
- Look at the cover first and predict what the story will be about.
- During parts of the book where something particularly important happens, make a prediction of what will happen next in the story. They don’t have to be right. Revisit later in the text and examine the prediction’s validity.
- How will a character solve a problem?
- How is the character feeling right now?
- Explain/paraphrase what is happening in this part of the story.
- What happened at the end of the story?
At the end:
- How did a character change or grow during the story?
- Summarize the story. What happened?
Try to avoid questions that only elicit a yes or no response. The questions above encourage the child to stop and really think about the text, and even empathize with the character(s). It is beneficial when using both picture books and chapter books.
The conversations that emerge will greatly enhance comprehension and understanding, and of course, the same techniques will be just as important when the child begins reading on their own. Consider making it a practice of having “book talks” when sharing stories together.
Written by: Editorial Team, My Learning Springboard, Inc.