The other day, my son shared with me that he read the same content over and over and still didn’t understand. He was able to read the passage fluently, but the recall was missing. As both a parent and an exceptional student educator, I know that this is a common problem for students, especially as they make the transition from learning to read (early elementary school) to reading to learn (middle elementary school).
If your child has shared this concern with you or if your child’s teacher has noticed a problem, you can help your child strengthen their reading comprehension with a simple exercise called “Words to Pictures.”
• Read aloud to your child: Choose a topic your child is interested in. Have him/her sit looking at you and pretend there is a movie screen above you. Read a sentence and begin to create a “movie” by using keywords from the sentence. As you continue reading each sentence, make sure to stop and add words to the “movie.” At the end of each paragraph, have your child rewind the movie and “play back” what they have learned by summarizing the paragraph for you.
• Have your child read aloud to you: Once your child is proficient at creating the “movie” while you read aloud, have him/her read to you, all the while helping your child create the imaginary movie. Be sure to guide your child towards important details that will help produce a complete “movie.”
• Silent reading: Your child will be ready to create his own words-to-picture process silently when he has mastered the art of creating an imaginary movie with the steps above!
Blogger Dianne Craft summarizes it this way: “No pictures=No answers; Few pictures=Few answers; Great pictures=Great Answers” (The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, December 2012). Practicing these exercises with your child for 15 minutes daily will foster a habit of creating their own “movie.” Learning this “words-to-picture” process will strengthen your child’s reading comprehension abilities.
Reading, as with any skill, must be practiced. After your child has improved reading comprehension, don’t stop encouraging him or her to read! If your child doesn’t like reading, try one of these suggestions:
• Visit a bookstore and let your children peruse the aisles for material that interests them.
• Encourage your children to start a book club with their friends.
• Introduce your children to books that belong to a series (make sure all material is age appropriate).
Ana Gomez is the Director of Exceptional Student Education at Divine Savior Academy in Doral, Florida. For more information about reading comprehension, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 305-597-4545 ext. 1108. For more information about Divine Savior Academy or to schedule a tour, visit www.divinesavioracademy.com.