I get irritated about the way that reading is taught in the schools. Not the decoding part. Children usually learn to decode well enough to begin to read. I dislike the way that making sense of the text is taught. If a baseball coach did this, they would run him off the field!
What if the coach showed videos about the game of baseball, but the players never got to play a whole game? Oh, they could stand at home plate and practice their stance and swing. They could throw the ball around the bases. Once in a while, they could play an inning, but they could never play a whole game. Would they become proficient baseball players? Absolutely not!
In reading classes, you learn about effective beginnings and endings for stories. There are questioning strategies. You examine the language, including figurative language. The problem and resolution in the story is discussed. Sometimes, you can read a short story, but in these days of test, test, test, there is seldom time to read a whole book for enjoyment. At home, organized activities, the television, and the virtual world get in the way of reading. The focus on reading has changed from reading for learning and for pleasure to reading to pass a test.
Shifting attention from one thing to another is a problem for kids with Attention Deficit Disorder. Students with ADD/ADHD have difficulty following the sequence of information and remembering facts. Sometimes, they get overwhelmed when they are not used to dealing with a large amount of text. How is a student with Attention Deficit Disorder supposed to learn to read for meaning?
Basically, it comes down to what the parent thinks is important. Do you feel that itís crucial for your child to be an effective reader? Are you willing to put in the sweat equity to see that this happens? Here is a method that I have found that helps any child who can read at a second to third grade level. If you have them do this strategy every day for the school year, their reading comprehension should improve at least three grade levels, based on the informal results that Iíve seen in my classes.
How does this miracle happen? First, you will be reading with him, but he needs to choose a book that he can read easily. This book can be fiction or non-fiction. It needs to be a book, not a magazine or newspaper. You want the child to have some story continuity over time to work with. Consult your local librarian for books that are at both his reading and interest level. You might do some research about hi/lo books. These are books with simpler vocabulary and sentence structure, but they are written to engage the interests of older students. Anne Schraff is one author who does this well. After your child chooses the book for both of you, choose a time to read. The equipment is simple: the book, a spiral notebook, and a pencil or pen.
This activity takes 30-45 minutes. It takes more time in the beginning. First, read for 20 minutes. Most students donít find this too hard to do. Drop everything else. Donít answer the phone, a page, or a tweet. Above all, don't talk; just read. After the 20 minutes is up, get out your spiral reading notebook and writing utensil. At the top of the page, put the name of the book. You only need to do this when you start reading the book. Also, put the date and the pages that you read every day. Hereís the hard part. In your own words, tell what happened in the story during the pages that you read. At the end, you need to have at least five good sentences telling what happened.
You can talk about the setting, the characters, the action, but it MUST be in your own words. Tell what happened. This is called paraphrasing. Paraphrasing does not mean that you take your five favorite sentences from the pages that you read and copy them down. In fact, it is much better if you close the book before you write. This trains your mind to remember details of what happened. Will you remember everything? No, especially not at first. This exercise is like anything else; the more you practice, the better you get. Your mind will automatically start searching for meaning in what you are reading. Why? This strategy trains it to do that. After you and your child have written your summaries, discuss them together. Using this method, you will become a faster and more effective reader. So will your child.
Your child will choose harder books as his reading comprehension increases. This will mark his progress for you. When a child is in the sixth grade, and heís reading at the second grade level, every day in class is full of small and large humiliations. Over the course of his sixth grade year, if he improves his reading level from the second grade to the fifth grade, he is in a much better position as a seventh grader. He can work more independently. His understanding of the material will be better. Success is within his grasp!
This book will help you and your child find suitable books for him to read without having to ask other people for help. Filled with suggestions, this book can take the pain out of finding a high interest book. If you must, buy it new. However, you can help the environment and your wallet by purchasing a used book. Go Green! The Amazon link is below, if you want to take a peak!