I received these products for free to review. The opinions expressed are honest and provided without monetary compensation.
As a young child, I excelled in school. Math was always my strong subject, I loved science, I began reading at 4 years old, I had good listening skills, and I was a great speller. The one area where I struggled as I moved into the upper elementary grades was reading comprehension. There was always a discrepancy on my standardized test scores between reading comprehension and all other areas. I think part of it was that I was bored and disinterested in the texts provided to me, but part of it was that it was a real challenge. It did not come as easily to me as other academic areas did.
As an educator, I have always enjoyed teaching reading. I am currently tutoring 4 children, and the primary focus tends to be on listening and reading comprehension (as well as other reading skills, like phonemic awareness, vocabulary, and phonics). To increase engagement and interest in learning to read, materials and activities need to be personally relevant and fun. Here are three ideas of materials and activities to engage struggling readers meaningfully:
Storytelling – To better understand and relate to details in a story, learners can practice telling and retelling their own stories. For children with creative imaginations or a strong ability to recall information, storytelling tends to come naturally. For children who are not able to acquire these skills naturally, they may need some extra prompts to tell stories. I liked to use the HearBuilder Sequencing Super Fun Deck to visually prompt students through the storytelling process. Begin by selecting a series of between 3 and 6 pictures. Depending upon the learners’ abilities, provide the necessary support to sequence the pictures, model how to use the pictures to tell a story, and then allow the child to tell you a story using the pictures. This helps teach the child the types of information and details to include when telling creative stories or retelling real-life events.
Sequencing – Similar to storytelling, understanding cause and effect relationships and the sequence of steps in a series can be a challenge to children who struggle to understand text. The Sequencing Events in Stories Fun Deck provides brief stories on one side of the card and the events out of order on the other side. The deck comes with a dry-erase marker (which children love!) to number the steps in order directly on the card. Each card also includes a series of open-ended questions to extend the learning beyond just concrete thinking into more abstract thinking.
High-interest Topics – I remember having little interest in what I had to read as a child, particularly in middle school, and as a result, I often performed poorly on reading comprehension tests (relative to other subject areas). I recall taking a standardized test once that had a page-long reading sample with the steps necessary to make a pencil. Yawn. Self-selected reading based on high-interest topics engages the learner in a way that can improve upon his/her comprehension. The child’s selections can be read silently or aloud by the child to target reading comprehension or the child can be read to for listening comprehension. The Super Duper Auditory Memory for Dinosaurs & More Fun Deck is an example of a high-interest activity to increase comprehension.
For more ideas about how to help struggling readers, you may also want to check out Why Your First Grader Hates to Read.
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What activities do you engage your child in to increase comprehension?