reading comprehension

Questions to Ask Your Child to Boost Reading Comprehension

When it comes to building reading skills, what better than actually reading? However knowing the words, sounding them out, and reading them aloud is only part of the skill set that reading requires and can it help enhance the experience if done correctly. Being able to read is one thing, but retaining information, making inferences and forming opinions is another important aspect of this activity – especially in regards to academics. It is important that kids are not only able to read, but that they are also able to take something away from the experience as well. This can mean learning new things, but it can also mean connecting with a fictional character on a personal level or being inspired to engage their imaginations and do something new.

There are some ways parents can help kids boost their reading comprehension skills to get them in the habit of thinking actively.

Ask Their Opinion

This is straightforward, but it can help. After story time, whether it is the parent reading to the child or the child reading aloud, asking questions about the book or the chapter that was just read can help a lot. Not only can asking questions help engage their minds, but having a discussion about the story can help boost kids’ memories and encourage them to engage with the material more personally.

Ask them who their favorite character was and why. Ask them why they think the character did what they did in the story, and what they might have done differently if they were in their shoes. You can even ask your child what they think might happen next or what they would write if they were in charge of the next chapter or sequel.

Encourage Them to Keep a Journal

Kids don’t necessarily have to recount their days; kids can write about their lives, the things they read, school, or anything they like. The important thing is that they are writing. Writing is inherently related to reading in nature, and writing can help children better understand written material. Not only that, but writing can help boost communication skills, empathy and emotional understanding.

Give your kids prompts to answer in their journal, whether it is about their day, what happened at school, or what they think about the things they are reading. Ask them engaging questions and see what they come up with.

Have Them Tell You a Story

Sometimes, bedtime includes a story from mom or dad and not from a book. Storytelling in any form can be beneficial, plus it’s a great way to spend time together and form wonderful memories. But next time at bedtime, ask your child to tell you a story instead – and don’t just listen in, be an active audience member. Ask your kids about their characters and the events of the story, ask them why things happen or why a character did something a certain way. These are the same questions you may have asked your children after reading a book, but asking them about their own stories can help to further engage their active sense of reasoning and understanding. These skills will come in handy when kids are reading on their own and once they begin to ask themselves these questions, they will become more active and understanding readers.

Below are some starter questions you may consider asking your child before choosing a book, while reading a book, or when you’re finished reading:

Picking out a book

• Why did you choose this book?

• Did you like the picture on the front? What’s happening in the image?

• What could this book be about?

Before reading the book

• Can you point to the title? or What is this? (pointing to the title)

• What might happen in the story?

• Talk about the different parts of the book (ex. front cover, back cover, title, author, illustrator, etc.)

• If it is an informational book, ask them what they hope to learn and why

While reading

• What has happened so far?

• What might happen next?

•How do you think the story might end?

• What sort of character is….? How would you describe them? Would you be friends with them?

• How would you feel if you had been that character? Has anything like that happened to you? What would you do if this happened to you?

• If reading an information book: Have you learned anything new? What else would you like to know?

At the end of the book

• What was their favorite part? What was the most interesting/exciting part of the book?

• Why did that character do … (give a situation from the story as an example)?

• What happened in the story?

• Who are the main characters in the story?

• What character would you like to be?

• Did you like this book?

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What to Keep in Mind Before Your Child Starts Reading

Reading is an essential skill and is the key to the future. Children typically learn to read on their own around pre-K level, but it is never too early to expose your child to books and reading in general.

One of the most important things that parents can do is read to their children, but reading has more benefits than many people realize. Even if a child can not read on their own yet, reading along with your child can help them develop key language and speaking skills, it can help train them to become better listeners, and it can also help them think more abstractly, too.

As beneficial as reading to your children can be, it also helps to make it more engaging. Even if they cannot read on their own yet, they can still engage with the text and the story itself. Ask them questions, inspire discussion, inspire them with what-if’s. These sorts of engaging questions can help kids to interact with books more closely even if they cannot read themselves and can also help to boost reading comprehension skills when they do. Reading is not just about the act of identifying words correctly, it’s also about the story, the characters, and the journey. With narrative text, asking questions can help kids think critically about the story and encourage them to ask questions and make inferences. These skills can also easily be applied to informational text, such as that found in textbooks and other materials children will see in school. By engaging with the text, kids can develop skills that allow them to understand abstract concepts and develop essential problem-solving skills.

Most importantly, asking questions about books helps kids think about books before they’re even reading. By the time they are able to read on their own, kids will have already developed a personal relationship with reading and may already develop a love for books as well.

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How the Reading Aloud Method Will Help Children Love Reading

When it comes to literacy development, there are not many methods better than simply reading aloud. According to the Bredekamp, Copple, & Neuman, 2000 study, it is the single most important activity for reading success and to boost reading comprehension. It not only provides children with an accessible demonstration of phrased, fluent reading but it also provides them with the immediate rewards of reading, developing the listener’s interest in books and piquing their desire to be a reader as they become more skilled.

Reading out loud can be a great tool for parents, as well as a great activity to share with children. Listening to others read can develop key understanding skills and reading comprehension, even if the child is not doing the reading themselves. Active listening can help kids familiarize with the different parts of a story as well as with different and integral parts of language. On that note, children can listen on a higher level than they can read – meaning that they can listen to books that are more advanced than their reading level. This can be extremely helpful when trying to boost your child’s reading skills, reading level, and generally interesting them in reading on their own.

For the most part, a child’s first experience with reading will be story time with their parents or something similar. By making story time a staple of your daily schedule, reading and storytelling can quickly become a very important part of your child’s life. However, parents can take it a step further, too.

Make Reading a Part of Your Lives
When story time has its own time and place, children find meaning for stories and reading in their lives. There are so many ways in which parents can make reading a part stor
of their child’s everyday world. Have books around, of all kinds. Give your kids a little library of their own, but even magazines and coffee table books around the house can pique their interest – one day, they’ll be able to read those things, too. Kids also learn from example, so if you read often yourself, children will develop an interest in reading, too. But overall, if shared story time is something that you do every night before bed, or in any part of the day, they become habits and the comfort they provide can help to ensure that your child is always interested in books, reading and learning.

Encourage Kids to Listen and Form Opinions
Reading aloud is one thing, but it can play a huge role when it comes to active listening. Active listening during story time can help build vital reading comprehension skills that kids will utilize once they can read more independently. Ask your kids questions about the story. Request an overview after every book or chapter. Have them tell you about their favorite characters and why.

Read Aloud – and Think Aloud, Too
In addition to asking kids questions about what you’re reading, asking them to share their thoughts and feelings can help them develop communication skills that can carry across verbal and written forms. Ask them to connect the book to their own life experience, to other books you’ve shared together, and even ask them to connect what they are reading to universal concepts like love, friendship, family, etc. Stories made personally for children can help with this process as they are submerged into the story themselves helping them connect with characters in the story.

Have Kids Read Along
As kids get older and begin to learn, they will surely be able to identify some of the words you’re reading – even if the book you’re sharing is a bit more advanced for them. If kids are encouraged to read along, even if they are still listening, different parts of their brain are being activated and utilized. Kids will have a better idea of the relationship between how words look and how they sound, and they may also develop a deeper understanding of how language flows and how stories develop as well.

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