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Learning: Practical Ideas for Parents

Children who identify quickly and correctly most of the words in the books that they are reading usually comprehend what they are reading.

However, comprehension involves more than just reading the words; it involves understanding, thinking, and often learning something new. The more children know about what they are reading, the more likely they are to comprehend what they are reading.

New information, ideas, and vocabulary learned from reading are added to children's store of knowledge. Children benefit from comprehension activities such as talking about what they have read, discussing the meanings of new words, and comparing one story with another.

As children start reading more complex books in science and social studies, they may learn some specific comprehension strategies.

Here are some things to try at home:

  • As you read a book with your children, ask them questions about the book's characters, places, and events.
  • When returning to a story, have your children talk about what they have already read.
  • Have your children read a new story; then ask them to tell you the story in their own words. Have them tell the story in the order in which it happened.
  • Talk about any new words your children have read in a story. Ask them to make up sentences with the new words and have them write out the sentences. Then post the best sentences on the refrigerator or on a bulletin board. Encourage your children to use the words in other situations.
  • As you read together, but before you come to the end of the story, ask your children to tell how they think the story will end or how they think the problems in the story could be solved.
  • Talk with your children about how the books they are reading are similar to other books they have read. Ask your children to tell you things they have done that are similar to the events in the story.
Adapted from: Beginning Reading Instruction: Practical Ideas for Parents. (1996). Texas Education Agency.

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"Wear the old coat and buy the new book." — Austin Phelps