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Reading with Meaning

If you are like most parents today, running around between school, extramurals, homework and work, you will probably not have the time and energy to spend more time on yet another new skill that your child has to master. But, if there is one skill that will help your child far more than another half an hour of sport or music lessons, it is the art of reading comprehensively.

Reading comprehension is a skill that will ultimately benefit your child far more than just in the English class. In fact, children with weak reading comprehension skills suffer in all subjects at school, even Mathematics.

Imagine your future employed child being handed a document of ten pages with the instruction from the boss to have a one-page summary ready by the next morning, or given a list of instructions to assemble a complicated piece of machinery? Will they be able to complete these tasks successfully without having mastered the art of comprehending or understanding what they are reading? Sadly, the answer is no.

Poor reading comprehension skills have also been linked to crime and poverty:

  • Over 60% of inmates in the US prison system have reading skills at or below the fourth grade level
  • 85% of US juveniles in prison are functionally illiterate
  • 43% sets of adults with extremely low reading skills live at or below the poverty line

http://www.k12reader.com/the-importance-of-reading-comprehension/

Reading comprehension changes a passive reader into an active reader. Whether you are reading for pleasure or instruction without comprehension, the text remains meaningless.  The purpose of all reading is ultimately to derive meaning.

 What is an active reader?

 An active reader is someone who is able to understand what he or she reads, analyse the information and able to apply the knowledge gained.

Active readers can:

  • Predict what will happen next in a story
  • Identify character traits of main characters, plot and setting
  • Clarify parts of texts that are difficult to understand
  • Find the meaning of difficult words by reading it in context
  • Create questions on the story
  • Apply the knowledge gained in other similar situations

How can you help your child to develop better reading comprehension skills?

  • Choose texts that are suitable

Age-appropriate reading is important to prevent feelings of inadequacy. If a child can connect or relate to the story or article, the understanding of the text will be easier. Start with short texts to keep his or her attention.

  • Read text out loud

By reading out loud more senses are engaged, which better the chances of comprehension and recollection.

  • Retell what was read

When retelling a story, focus on the main ideas and characters. This also helps develop the skill of summarising data.

  • Focus on the sequence of events

Test if your child knows in what sequence events happened in the story, using questions that start with: “What happened before…” “What did the main character do after…”

  • Enhance vocabulary

Teach the skill of finding the meaning of unknown words by reading the word in context. Use the dictionary for the words he or she really struggles with.

  • Question techniques

Ask questions that test the basic understanding of the text. Then progress to questions that will require them to use higher order thinking skills, eg.: “What do you think happened next?” (prediction). “Do you think this character has the same character traits as the main character in our previous story?” (application) “In what way is our house different to the house in the story?” (analyse) “Can you think of a better ending to this story?” (create)

StudyChamp offers a variety of reading comprehension practice worksheets and workbooks.

Our new Read-and-Understand workbooks for Grade 3 and Grade 4 focus on introducing learners to all forms of written language and provides practice in reading, comprehension and general language and grammar usage. Work through these workbooks with your child and help them become better readers!

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