Reading is the foundation for everything in life. If you can’t read you can’t apply math concepts, read a recipe and create a meal, or read original documents. The inability to read leaves people on shaky academic and social ground.
Struggling readers are more likely to drop out of school, have difficulty with law enforcement, and are forced to take low paying jobs with little opportunity for advancement.
Reading and reading comprehension basics
Once we’ve learned the basics of reading, we need to move on to understanding what we have read. This is critical when learning from good books as well as expressing ideas and opinions with others.
We have entered the level of reading comprehension. This is where we learn many things from what we have read. It is the ability to understand what we have read that opens the door to a whole new world.
Reading comprehension is understanding a portion of text that has been read. To put it another way, reading comprehension is making meaning out of the text. It is an important skill for readers to acquire in order to learn something from reading. This is a major skill that must be mastered in order for students to be successful in school and later on in life.
Is Reading Comprehension Important?
The answer to this question is a resounding YES! Reading and understanding what has been read is the major goal of education. It is the springboard from which all of education launches.
Children gain knowledge and understanding of what they are reading. They also form ideas that impact their behavior and thoughts when they have strong comprehension skills. Reading comprehension also is the foundation for students becoming enthusiastic readers.
Why is Reading Comprehension Important for Student Success?
Students that learn reading comprehension strategies are able to learn from what they are reading. They are then able to think critically about the world around them. This opens up the world for a student.
Children are unique and have specific interests and inclinations. The child that is able to read can do deep dives in areas of interest that may never be covered in school. In essence, reading comprehension is a powerful tool in the hand of a curious child.
Comprehending Reading Material:
When children are able to comprehend what they are reading, they are able to grasp difficult ideas as well create ideas of their own. Charlotte Mason talked about the need for children to be able to interact with authors without the interference of another person.
The adults have the job of introducing the child to the author. Beyond this, it is important for the child to get to know the author directly. This enables the child to develop authentic questions. The child is also able to grapple with ideas that may not be easily answered.
In time, as the child continues to read that particular author and other authors, they will come to their own conclusions on specific ideas.
The Connection Between Reading Comprehension and Reading Fluency?
Reading fluency is reading at a good pace and with proper phrasing so that the student understands what they have read. If the student is spending a great deal of time trying to figure out what words mean, they are not going to have the mental capacity to grasp the meaning behind those words. Fluency is also connected to proper phasing. When readers are able to read with proper phrasing we can be confident that they understand what they are reading.
What is word calling?
Word calling is simply calling out the words as the student comes upon them. There is no real understanding of what is being read. It sounds very stiff and without any phrasing.
Reading Comprehension and Character Analysis
One of the pleasures that children get from reading great stories is learning about how people react in different situations. These character traits give the student something to hang onto as they mature.
Often-times students will identify with a character. Knowing and understanding character traits in a character draws the student further into the story.
Engagement is increased and students learn the value of various character traits such as patriotism, perseverance, courage, or loyalty. Character analysis helps the student understand these qualities and how they are displayed.
What are Some Important Reading Comprehension Strategies?
Activating prior knowledge
Students should ask themselves what they know about the topic to be read. In other words, when they look at the cover of a book, they should look carefully at the title and the picture and then think about the things they know about in relation to what they see on the cover.
- Parents and teachers can help students activate prior knowledge by asking good questions. The questions should help the student connect their thoughts to what they see on the cover of a book.
students should also try to guess what will happen in the book next. This helps them pay attention to what they are reading. Their job would be to determine if what they predicted came true. It is important that students understand that if their prediction did not come true that it is ok. That is a natural part of predicting.
- Our predictions don’t necessarily have to come about. It is the process of finding out if what we predicted comes about, not getting the prediction correct. Sometimes students struggle with feeling like they got something wrong if their prediction doesn’t come about. Be aware of this and guide your student through this process.
As the student is reading, they should ask questions about what might happen in the next part of the story. If it is an informational text, they may ask questions related to the text. Use a graphic organizer with your students to help them develop questions and answers. Students ask questions to understand the text. They use the text to find the answers to the questions.
Re-reading is a reading comprehension technique that can help students increase their comprehension. Interestingly, Charlotte Mason would encourage students to pay close attention to the first reading of the text so that there would not be a need for a second read. Charlotte felt that children can be taught to pay attention to the text. This encourages engagement and focus.
- She taught that children will learn that they really don’t have to pay attention if they know there will be another opportunity to read the text. Re-reading may be saved for a season where the student has practiced habits of attention first.
Charlotte Mason and reading comprehension
Charlotte Mason taught that narration is the best way to teach and assess reading comprehension. The traditional way of assessing reading comprehension is to use worksheets with pre-determined questions. Many children (and teachers alike) find this to be boring and very much like work and drudgery. It serves to suck the life and joy out of reading.
Furthermore, it allows the child to use only a portion of his attending skills as he learns to attend to text that only appears to be connected to answering predetermined questions.
Charlotte Mason’s Approach
Charlotte Mason called for the child to put forth energy in paying attention to the text. The approach helps the teacher communicate that there is value in listening to what is being read and if attention is not paid, then there will be a loss of some sort. It is very clear to the child that there will not be a re-read of the text so they need to pay attention the first time it is read.
I appreciate Charlotte Mason’s approach to education. Her approach honored the Lord’s gift He placed in each child. When you connect with me you will be working with a tutor that will give your child the best in education. Contact me today and get your videos today.
Difficulty in Reading Fluency:
Children let us know when they are having difficulty in reading fluency by saying that they don’t like reading. They often say that it takes too long to read a book.
How to Parents Know When Children are Struggling:
Children may hear their child read but they take a long time to read a book. Parents notice that their child reads with little or no expression. They may hear their child stumble over lots of words or lose his place when reading something. Parents may also notice the child moving his mouth.
Teachers will often see some of these struggles from a different perspective. Teachers oftentimes quantify reading speed and fluency. They often use a variety of assessments that helps them understand if a student is making progress in their reading.
While progress is important, teachers, as well as parents, need to make sure there is a level of joy when they read. This may be one of the most important elements in reading progress in the areas of fluency and comprehension. Children are naturally wired to learn. They have a natural curiosity and we have to nurture that. If we can keep that fire fueled we have more than half the battle won.
Children will stay engaged in the battle if they are motivated to do so. I have seen many children put forth the effort necessary to learn something if they are interested in learning that particular skill.
It is incredibly motivating for children and adults to know that if they exert effort in learning something they can acquire that skill. This is a huge esteem booster and motivator. We have all experienced that feeling. It helps to keep push forward.
How have you motivated your children? What has your experience been in teaching your children to read?
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