Do any of these sound familiar:
- my child can read the passage, but doesn’t understand what he is reading
- my child can read the passage, can get a gist of what the passage is about, but cannot answer the questions
- my child can read the passage and infer the meaning from what he reads, but his answers don’t make sense
What’s going wrong? Does he have a problem? Yes, you are on the right track. His problem is reading comprehension. It is a common problem among primary age children, and there is not just one quick solution to the problem. Many parents are keen to help their children with comprehension, but don’t know how!
One sure way to help is by establishing a reading habit in your child. There is a right way to do this, and it is not by strictly enforcing a reading session every day. The key is self-motivated interest. When your child is self-motivated, you will not need to nag at him to read; if anything, you’ll probably end up nagging at him to stop reading! :) And how do you establish interest in reading books?
Here’s a way that can reap great results with slightly older children (Primary 2 upwards): shared reading. I haven’t heard much of it here in Singapore, but I know that it has been used in other countries with fantastic results.
Find books on a topic that your child is interested in. Pick one, and begin reading it separately: he reads it on his own, and you read it on your own. Keep up with each other on where in the story you are reading, and what is going on in the plot.
Discuss what you’re reading with each other: what you think will happen, which character you appreciate, who you think the culprit is… the list goes on!
You’ll be amazed at how much it boosts the interest of your child if you’re reading and discussing stories with him! Shared reading does not only create interest in reading; it also boosts his reading comprehension as you discuss the story with him, answer his questions about parts he may not understand and draw conclusions together.
YES, I’VE DONE IT TOO!
I remember reading through thick 300+ page books (The Talisman, The Black Arrow… and others) with my sisters during my high school years. We didn’t know we were doing shared reading, but it did help us! Some of those books used archaic English that was not worth the trouble to understand… until we found out how fun it was to read and discuss what we read together. One rule (instituted by my younger sister) made the reading even more thrilling: no disclosing secrets to each other ahead of time. It worked! Those of us who read slower were spurred on to “find out what happened” by the quicker readers… they were always saying things like, “Eee, just wait till you reach Chapter 5. It’s so icky.” Or, “Wah, the end of the book gave me a shock!”
We spent numerous lunchtimes talking over characters in books, how they developed, the roles they played in the final outcome… and thus unknowingly helped each other out in reading comprehension! In fact, it also helped us understand higher language (the imagery, metaphors, similes and allusions), which was in turn reflected in our writing. Wonderful results …all because we started reading and discussing books together!
So, I sincerely hope that this tip will help you too! Don’t look for instant results, but expect GREAT results in the long run. My advice: do get involved… enthusiastically! I salute you in your efforts to help your child!