Here are some ways that you can help your child develop the skills to understand, process and recall information when they are reading. Some ideas work best with readers and novels, and some work best with 'information' texts. Some will even work with taped TV programs... maybe not with The Simpsons, though.
Before starting to read
Encourage your child to look at the title, headings, pictures for ideas of the content
Help your child to identify the text type: recount, report, narrative, explanation, procedure (your child will learn these around Year 4)
Encourage your child to predict: what is this information about? What parts are likely to be most useful? Where should we start reading?
Relate the material to your child's own experiences: a front cover of a reader may picture the sea - remind your child of times they have been to the beach, what was there, what they learnt
Place the material in context: why has the teacher suggested it? How could it be useful?
These are strategies to 'engage' your child's critical thinking skills before starting
Use techniques such as highlighter pens, sticky notes, writing dot points to identify main points
Ask you child to retell the story page by page, using picture cues
Work out headings to summarise the information
Ask your child questions about the text "Show me the part where it tells us.... Show me the word that means..., What happens before.... What happens to the person when...."
Look back over the pictures, but cover up any captions ( the words written underneath): talk about what the pictures are about
Play "what I am thinking of?" using clues from the text. ("It has 4 legs.... It flies....")
Write out sentences from the text but leave out an important word. Your _____ has to choose the right______and write it in the ______.
Write a summary of the main points in the text, but leave out the most important facts for your child to fill in.
Types of reading and viewing that will help your child develop comprehension skills
Magazine articles from magazines they enjoy
CD information sheets, film and CD reviews in the newspaper
Recipes and Cereal boxes
Newspaper articles such as the NIE pages on Tuesday in the Advertiser, sports reports, fashion reports, the gossip columns
Tape information programs on TV and use the same strategies as above to summarise and interpret: try Totally Wild, the wildlife programs on ABC, Mythbusters, BTN, Getaway
Ask your teacher for more ideas or practice sheets. Have fun together!
Jenni Pearce, Psychologist (2009)
Child & Educational Psychology
6 Edward Street, NORWOOD 5067 South Australia, Australia.