When reading with your child, you can help them think about what they are reading by asking questions and encouraging them to talk about the text. Below are several approaches that we use at Shortreed to help build reading comprehension.
The 5 W's
Who? (i.e. Who are the characters in the story?)
What? (i.e. What is happening in the story?)
Where? (i.e. Where is the story taking place?)
When? (i.e. When is the story taking place?)
Why? (i.e. Why did that character act in a particular way?)
Text to Self: This reminds me of my own life when...
Text to Text: This reminds me of another book or movie because...
Text to World: This reminds me of a current or historical event, such as...
Retelling the Story in their Own Words
Encouraging children to retell stories in sequential order (first, then, then) will help build their understanding of stories and help them to better understand story structure. After reading, encourage your child to retell the story by starting at the beginning and talking about each event in order.
Beginning, Middle, and End
In addition to retelling stories, it is important to encourage children to think about the beginning, middle and end of stories. There's lots of ways to do this. From simply talking about the beginning, middle, and end; to having kids draw pictures that show the beginning, middle, and end of a story; the most important consideration is choosing something that your child enjoys doing.
Problems and Resolutions
Stories are often told to teach a lesson. To help children understand the lessons that are taught through stories, it is important to teach them to talk about the problems and resolutions that take place in stories. Asking your child about the problem that took place in the story and how it was resolved will help to develop their reading comprehension.
Students use factual information and inferences to think about stories. Factual information includes literal information from the text, while inferences involve using factual information as evidence to make conclusions about what is happening in a story. For example, if a character in a story returns to their house and finds their couch has torn fabric with exposed springs and there is a dog sitting on the floor playing with fabric from the couch, the reader can infer that the dog wrecked the couch while it's owner was out of the house. You can help build your child's ability to make inferences by asking them about what characters are thinking and feeling during different parts of the story.
Books and stories are full of interesting details. While details make stories interesting, it is important for readers to start to think about the main idea of a piece of writing. Being able to distinguish between details and the main idea helps readers engage and interact with books in meaningful ways. Asking your child about the main idea and helping them distinguish between the main idea and added details will help build their understanding of what they have read.
Adrienne Gear's Reading Power Strategies
At Shortreed, one of the resources we use to teach reading comprehension is Adrienne Gear's Reading Power. This resource includes 5 main strategies for thinking about books. The strategies are:
Connecting - comparing what you've read to an experience, another book, or an event
Questioning - asking questions about what you've read
Visualizing - picturing what is taking place in a book
Inferring - using information from a book to draw conclusions about things that are not explicit in the text
Transforming - taking what you've learned from a book and applying it to your life in some way
Reading with Appropriate Speed, Accuracy, and Expression (Fluency)
Reading fluently demonstrates that readers understand what they are reading and helps readers connect and engage with books in meaningful ways. When your child is in Grade Three, you can support fluent reading by encouraging them to reread books. When students reread books, they are familiar with the content of the book and are able to focus their energy on reading smoothly with expression. To encourage fluency, remind your child that we are working on reading smoothly with expression and do not want to read like "robots."