Young readers need to acquire good comprehension skills. In order to do this, they need strategies that help them fully understand what they read.
Here are four simple strategies to help your young reader understand and appreciate stories.
- Build on prior knowledge
- Attempt to sound out words (decoding)
- Make predictions
- Visualize what is happening in the story
Prior knowledge involves helping a child recall what she has seen or heard. When reading a story about zoo animals, for example, a child should know that zebras have stripes and elephants have trunks.
Sounding out words starts with practicing consonant and vowel sounds. Then help her blend letter sounds, from left to right, to make words.
Making predictions is guessing or inferring what might happen next. For example, if someone left the cage at the zoo open, what might the animal do? What might happen next?
Visualizing helps readers make mental pictures of what they are reading. These visualizations make the reading more personal and easier to remember.
As a parent, you can support these four strategies many ways. Here are some examples:
- Give her opportunities to build prior knowledge. Visit a farm, pick strawberries, go to the beach or lake, cook together, plant a garden, visit your library, go on nature walks together, etc. Then talk about what you saw and how the day went.
- Help her practice consonant and vowel sounds, then help her blend those sounds to make words. Have a “word of the week” at your house. Help her practice saying and spelling it. Talk about what it means. When she can easily say and spell it, let her write it on an index card and hang it in his room to create a “word wall.”
- Ask questions, such as “What do you think will happen next?” Or, “Why do you think that happened?” when reading stories together.
- Play a visualization game. “I spy something that is little, flies, makes a buzzing sound and can sting. What do you think it is?” Have her lead the “I spy” and give you clues!
Good readers read much and often! Combining these strategies, with many opportunities to read, helps your child make connections to stories…and these connections increase reading comprehension and enjoyment.