When kids are learning to read, reading the words on the page is just one element. Importantly, they need to be able to understand what those words mean, i.e. reading comprehension. This skill becomes increasingly important as they progress through their schooling.
While some kids are natural readers and love immersing themselves into stories, others are not. Whatever type of child you have, these six simple activities will help your kids with their reading comprehension and hopefully help them develop a love for reading and storytelling.
Draw a picture
This exercise is perfect for kids who are creative and love to draw. Ask them to choose one element of the story and draw a picture of it. It could be as simple as the house one of the characters lives in or more complex like a scene from the book. As long as they are capturing elements from the story let them use their imagination and artistic license. The key here is to check that they are understanding the words by their ability to interpret those words into a picture.
Retell the story
When they have finished reading a book ask your child to tell you what happened in the story. This is good for kids who are more verbal and like to talk things out. Going a bit further with this one, ask them questions about why they think certain things happened (e.g. why did the character do what they did). The more they have understood the story the better they will be able to tell you in their own words what happened.
Encourage them to ask questions
As frustrating as it can be to be interrupted on every page as your child asks questions, encourage them to do so. My daughter will often ask questions to understand more about the characters or events and it helps her to process the story we are reading. If you don’t know the answer, put the question back on to your child and ask them what they think, which will encourage them to consider beyond the words they are reading/hearing.
Change the ending
Kind of like a choose your own adventure book, ask your child to think of a different ending to the story. This will rely on them being able to recollect what has happened throughout the book to come up with their own alternative ending. If they are struggling you can give them prompts or make suggestions to encourage them to use their understanding of the story and their imagination to come up with something fun.
Tell the next part of the story
Similar to changing the ending, telling the next part of the story is a fun way to check their comprehension. They can set the next part of the story wherever they choose and imagine what might happen next.
Act it out
When we are reading a story my daughter will often jump up and start acting out what we are reading. If your child struggles to sit still while reading you can encourage them to act out the story while you are reading. It will take longer to read the story but it will certainly help with their comprehension if they feel like they are part of the story. For other children it might be a case of acting out scenes when the story is finished.
Do you have any tips for helping kids with their reading comprehension?
Image: Elise Garner, lecoco.com.au
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