SchoolFamily Voices

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.

Practice Cause-and-Effect Thinking for Better Reading Comprehension

Critical thinking skills are based on prior knowledge and experience. In reading, these higher-level strategies help young students make reasonable guesses based on what they already know. This in turn helps to significantly increase their reading comprehension.

One easy way to start developing these skills in a young child is to discuss cause and effect. A child should know that a cause is “why” something happens, and an effect is “what” happens.

Parents can help a child seamlessly practice and incorporate this kind of thinking when reading together and into everyday life. Start by pointing out cause and effect in daily situations:

  • If you’re not at the bus stop by 8:15, you miss the bus.
  • If you leave a ball of string on the floor, the kitty will probably get tangled in it.
  • If you take a deep breath, then blow on the candle, the flame will go out.
  • When you fly the kite by the tree, it will most likely get caught in it.

When reading together look for  cause and effect “trigger” words like first, last, then, because, if, so, when, probably, most likely, etc.

Cause and effect can be found in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, essays, and most other types of writing. Understanding cause and effect helps a child make important connections to what’s happening in a story. The more connections young readers can make, the more they deepen their understanding.


> Encouraging "Deeper-Level" Thinking in Young Children

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