When you are doing the lessons that include a Read + Discuss activity, we are encouraging you to have shared reading with your child. During and after your reading, there are several ways to engage your child and strengthen their reading comprehension. Many of these suggestions may come very naturally to you and your child, but even if they don’t, we encourage you to try a few different methods to review the reading.
Below, we’ve outlined five of our favorite ways to engage your child after reading, but this is certainly not an exhaustive list! Consider these a starting point—try out a few methods, and feel free to adapt to your child’s interests and needs.
Snack + Chat
If your child loves Tea + Poetry, they may be naturally drawn to this reading comprehension activity. Make shared reading an enjoyable experience by including it in your snack time. Use this opportunity to demonstrate how you process information as you read. Open ended comments like: “I really enjoyed learning…” “I didn’t know that….” “I think it’s funny that…” will encourage your child to express what they think, learned or appreciated about the reading. Discussing nonfiction and fiction reading in this way engages critical thinking skills in a non-pressure environment. You can also use this conversational method to compare and contrast readings, ask open ended opinion questions, and make personal connections to the reading, which will strengthen their ability to recall the information later.
When a child journals in response to a fiction piece, they can also make strong personal connections to the character and his or her motives and decisions. This is a wonderful opportunity for readers to connect with what they would have done in a similar situation, making judgment calls based on their beliefs, and comparing or contrasting with the story character. This method is best demonstrated by the homeschooling grown up before asking a younger child to attempt this. After the reading, grownups can journal a few sentences and read them out loud to their child. Other children may be very verbal but not ready to write, so they may ask the grownup to scribe their words. This is a great way to prepare them for free writing.
Narration (or Retelling)
This classical-inspired method will help your child learn how to express what they understood from the reading without a worksheet. The Well Trained Mind explains it this way: “Narration helps students to listen with attention, to grasp the main point of a work, to think through a sequence of events, and to reproduce the events in his own words in proper, logical order.” A student does this by retelling a passage that he has read or heard, putting it in his own words. If they need help to get started, ask comprehension questions. If they provide too many details, ask them for only two pieces of information. If your child has an understanding of story structure, it will help guide them as they retell the story to you or another person. By practicing retelling from a young age, your child will learn to hone in on what matters and what is detail.
Some children can express what they hear in pictures better than in words. Your child can be an active listener and may still want to draw as they listen. Encourage this! These drawings can also tell the story you are reading to them. Once he has completed his drawing, ask him to tell you about it. Again, the practice of retelling will help your child distinguish main points from details.
Reinforce story structure and retelling abilities with a creative activity such as cartooning. Similar to journaling, cartooning strengthens recall and connections but also helps build their skills at visualizing the details. How does your student imagine what the character looks like or where the setting is? Limiting their cartoons to just a page or two will also help them focus on the story structure as they prioritize what they should draw. For example, one frame could show what the character wants to achieve or what their goal is, another frame would reveal at least one problem the character faced, and the last frame could show how the problem was solved and the goal was reached. This blank comic book can be the perfect resource to encourage your child to cartoon as they read and learn.
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