Report cards come home. Although just a small reflection of your child as a learner, they can be a window into how your child is doing academically. If you ever have any questions about your child’s report card, I encourage you to call or e-mail your child’s teacher and connect with them. You are your child’s #1 teacher. Communication between parents and teachers is vital to your child’s academic success.
One of our readers wrote to us:
My first grade daughter is struggling in reading, I wanted to ask your opinion on what I can do at home. She reads to us every night, and does great, but I think she is struggling with comprehension. Do you have any advice for stuff I can do at home?
As we know of many parents with similar questions, we hope to answer with some simple activities that parents can do to help develop and strengthen reading comprehension.
Amanda’s Spin On It
First of all, it is great that you are taking the time to read with your daughter every day. This is SO important! Although we haven’t spent time reading with your daughter it sounds like she is able to decode, or sound out new words and sounds like a fluent reader, meaning her oral reading flows almost like a musical melody. There are many different ways that you can strengthen a childs’ reading comprehension. 2 strategies that come to my mind are First Lines and the use of a story map.
First Lines is an activity done prior to reading the story. You read your child the first 1 or 2 lines of the book, then talk about what the rest of the book is going to be about. This can also be called making predictions and they don’t have to be right! This is also a great time to bring up things you have done in the past together. For example, if you are reading a story about a little girl going to the pumpkin patch, you can say, “Do you remember when we went to the pumpkin patch last week. What type of things did we see and do? Do you think this story will have some of the same things?”
A story map is a graphic organizer that is done during or after reading. The simplest form is a Beginning, Middle and End story map. You can find one here. Students can either write a sentence (or 2) describing the part or draw a picture. An important component of story map is being able to talk to an adult or other child about the important parts. If your child is struggling to figure out what to write, you may provide them with prompts such as, “Lets think about the main characters. Who where they and what did they do first?”
Kim’s Spin On It
You mentioned that you’re reading with her at home every night which will most definitely help her! Since you said “struggling” I’m assuming that means her grades in school are reflecting she’s having difficulty. I would recommended scheduling a conference with her teacher to discuss what she’s observing with your daughter. I would also suggest finding out what they are reading, perhaps getting a reading list. You can always check out the same books at the local library if they are available for additional readings and also you’ll be able to focus in on what area she needs work on.
I think that Comprehension is one of the reading skills that beginning readers struggle with most often. One of the reasons is because they are so excited they can fluently read the words that they forget to remember what they’re reading. Sometimes just getting them to slow down and comprehend is the way to start, both predicting and summarizing can help with that.
One suggestion would be to have her spend more time predicting what’s going to happen next. While you’re listening to her read, literally close the book when you sense something big will happen and have her try to guess what the outcome will be. It helps her to process what’s been happening and also problem solve what could happen.
The other suggestions I have is to have her stop while she’s reading and ask her both a specific and summarizing question about what she just read. Those basic who, where, why, when, and how questions will get her thinking about what she’s reading.
The book in the photo is Colors of Me by Brynne Barnes; My kids adored the whimsical story rhyme about the beauty of colors and how it would great to be them all.