Reading at home is a part of homework for almost every age group. Reading comprehension, while it may sound like a teacher’s union buzzword, is one of the most important things your student is learning in those homework assignments, and it starts early. So parents must think like a teacher, if they are to help their students develop this crucial skill.
You can actually begin this process long before school. “Tell Daddy what we did at the zoo today,” sets your child up for the simplest lesson in understanding a narrative – constructing one themselves. Walk them through telling a story in order, with lots of ‘and then what?’
Once they’re reading, you can set them up for success with each assignment. Front-load them with questions about what they’re about to read, making sure they have the information to understand it. If they’re reading fairy tales, ask them about why they think people told these stories. If it’s a book on bugs, make sure they know the vocabulary, and maybe encourage them to read it in the backyard with the real live subjects.
When you’re reading with your child, practice thinking aloud. It may seem disruptive to the story, but say everything you think about what you’re reading. Ask questions of the story, and point out to your child when they’re answered. They can learn to internalize this kind of dialogue later – in the early stages, it’s much more important that they learn to participate in it.
Let your child be the teacher. Ask them questions about the texts, and encourage them to lecture you on it. Teaching has always been known to be a great way to fix data in your head, and speaking aloud their theories on what they’ve read will give them a chance to examine why they think the way they do. Have them summarize pages or chapters, teach you about the characters in the story, or even just tell you about the pictures.
And as cliché as it sounds, give them books they want to read. If they like gross, give them gross. If they like comics, give them comics. Create a love of reading, and reading for school will become the easiest assignment they get.