For many children, remembering what they read even just from a few minutes before can be difficult. Both struggling readers and those who read at or above grade level can struggle with reading comprehension, or the ability to recall what they had been reading before.
While many reading comprehension strategies focus on answering questions about short, nonfiction passages in workbooks, the best way to promote better reading retention is through regular books and materials. Whether it is a comic book, an article for a school assignment, or a piece from a magazine, the following strategies can help children better retain what they read.
1. Read, cover, remember, and retell. After reading a paragraph, have children cover the passage with their hand. Then, encourage them to remember what they read and retell it in their own words. Doing this helps them process what they read, as well as gives the opportunity to immediately go back and reread if necessary.
2. Use sticky notes to mark the text. While writing in school or library books should be discouraged, sticky notes are a way to interact with the text without damaging it. After every page or two, have children “check in” with the text by marking the page with a sticky note. For example, green sticky notes can represent “I understand everything I just read,” and pink sticky notes could represent “I have a question about what I just read.” These visual cues can make it easier for children and parents to understand the reading comprehension process.
3. Reflect and predict. When reading a book in more than one sitting, start by discussing what happened previously in the book before reading anything new. Likewise, after finishing a chapter or passage ask, “What do you think will happen next?” Using the information in the story to make reasonable predictions can help them apply what they have read.
4. Relate to the story. Children relate better to information that feels relevant to their own lives. When reading, stop and discuss what parts of the text relate to their own lives or other things they have read.
5. “Do I understand?” The most important tool parents and teachers can give children is the ability to recognize when they do and do not understand what they’ve read. If a child is having trouble recalling what they read even after using these strategies, try choosing reading materials at an easier level – or even seeking help from an educator or other professional.
Parents and teachers share a common goal – making sure children can become successful adults. While the specific skills they need may vary from occupation to occupation, there are a number of life skills that should be universally taught, such as problem solving and effective communication.
Helping children learn the following traits can prepare them for a successful future!
1. Problem solving
Problem solving is an integral part of critical thinking. From a young age, children can learn how to observe and analyze a problem and create smart solutions. Answering the “why’s” and “what if’s” help kids think through all sides of an issue, using thought and exploration to solve problems. Engage in thoughtful discussion by encouraging children to think creatively, use their imagination, and explore the world around them.
2. Love of learning
A love of learning can turn even the most difficult subject into an interesting, fun, and rewarding challenge. Encourage children to follow their passion and pursue their interests. Signing up for clubs and activities that reflect their favorite subjects or enrolling in engaging electives can make school a place they look forward to going to each day – and create a lifelong love of learning.
The ability to effectively communicate is a life skill that helps children succeed both personally and professionally. Encourage kids to practice verbal, non-verbal, and even written communication outside of the school environment. Asking for assistance in a store, making eye contact when speaking, or practicing a firm handshake are all ways to improve communication skills.
4. Goal setting
Learning how to set achievable short-term and long-term goals more can help make your child’s day more productive – and successful. Begin by working as a family to create goals for the school year; write down goals using the “I Will + What + When” format. If a child’s long-term goal is to get straight A’s, an achievable daily goal would be “I will finish all my homework first when I get home from school.”
5. Don’t forget practical life skills!
Practical life skills, such as learning to cook a meal or getting up and out of bed on time, are an important part of success as well. Foster your child’s independence by giving them age-appropriate tasks and duties. Kids in Kindergarten can begin helping pack their school lunches or put away their laundry, while older children can be responsible for their own laundry or school materials.