1 minute reading time (238 words)

Teach Temporal Words for Better Reading Comprehension

Knowing and understanding temporal words are key factors in helping young children sequence events in stories. Temporal words are words that relate to time. Twelve examples for young readers to know and practice are:

  • once
  • first
  • next
  • then
  • before
  • while
  • after
  • on
  • by
  • following
  • last
  • finally

Recognizing these important words helps a young reader begin to mentally “organize” events in the story. This organization can clarify story sequence, improving overall reading comprehension.

You can help your child become familiar with these words and practice them while reading together. Here are two simple ways to do this:

  • Point out these words when reading together, and reinforce their importance. If you’re reading The Three Little Pigs together, for example, you can clearly help her understand first (house of straw), next (house of sticks), and last (house of bricks).
  • Stop and ask simple questions after reading. If you’re reading the rhyme “Jack and Jill” together, ask your child “What’s the first thing Jack and Jill wanted to do?” (Run up the hill to get water.) “What happened next?” (Jack fell down.) “Then what happened?” (Jill came tumbling after.) “Finally, what do you think happened to the water?”

When reading together, always emphasize temporal words. Let this become a good reading habit. Before you know it, your child will be recognizing these important words on her own!


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