One of the most common academic concerns I hear from parents relates to how well (or not) their child reads. Here are the handy tips and tricks I suggest to parents who are looking for ways to improve their children's reading comprehension at home. These suggestions do NOT require you to purchase any sets of books or any new materials. Feel free to try these with books from the library, school or ones you already have at home.
To truly engage a child in a story, especially one they have never heard, you need to preface the story by activating any prior knowledge of the topic. For example, you have decided to read the story, The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch.
Instead of opening the book and jumping in, start by looking at the cover together. Ask questions to your child. Let them make predictions and get engaged with the topic before you even read the first word!
What do you see on the cover? (a dragon, smoke, girl in a paper bag dress, a big door, etc.)
What do you think the title means?
Where do you think they are?
What stories about princesses can you think of that you know already?
What do you think this story is going to be about?
Here is where most parents flop - they read the entire story and don't talk about it at all until the end! Try asking questions as you read to promote better comprehension of the story as you go. Compare this to stopping to drink water throughout your meal, instead of waiting until the end to chug a big glass of water. Having discussions throughout the story allows for better "digestion" of the material.
You might ask:
How do you think the character feels? How do you know?
Is there a problem in the story? If so, what is it?
Where does the story take place?
Who are the characters we have met so far? What are they like?
What do you think will happen next?
Now is the time for consolidating the understanding of the story. Here you might ask questions such as:
Was there a moral/lesson that we learned?
How did the story end?
Was there a solution to the problem?
What was the most exciting part of the story?
How might the story have ended differently?
Can you go back and find the part of the story that tells you about ___________?
By asking these simple questions, you are instantly engaging your child more deeply into the story and building their comprehension of texts. Feel free to reach out with questions or if you need support!