Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.
Young readers enjoy stories more when they can relate to characters, settings, or actions of the plot. Teachers call this a "self-to-text" connection. Children envision it as being "part" of the story.
Making a "self-to-text" connection in reading enhances comprehension and memory of the story. The more "self-to-text" connections a child can make, the greater their understanding of the story.
One of the best ways to help your child increase reading connections is to give them lots of "background knowledge." For example, by taking your child to special places like the zoo, the beach, the library or a science museum, etc., you can enrich and enlarge your child’s life experiences. That can help a child understand what they read.
Connections to everyday life increase your child’s prior knowledge as well. Going to the grocery store, car wash, gas station, doing laundry, cooking, etc. can help a child relate to what is happening in a story.
For example, if your child has a favorite pet, he would probably enjoy reading stories about having a pet, such as the "Henry and Mudge" series. If your child likes knowing about the weather, she might enjoy "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs."
If a young child first discovers an interest, then makes a reading connection, the result will be greater reading comprehension and enjoyment.