Reading Comprehension Strategies

Elaine Hays

Elaine Hays, Teacher Tutor

Comprehension Monitoring

You may have heard of the literacy organization Keys for Literacy founded by Joan Sedita. In her program, The Key Comprehension Routine, includes main idea skills, two-column notes, and question generation to support comprehension monitoring.

Main Idea Skills – One of the most common requests that I receive from parents is “help my child get organized!” No matter age or ability, we all struggle with organization whether it be organizing our thoughts, our tasks, or our lives! Working one-on-one with students can be a productive way to teach these skills. With younger children, I often use blocks or plastic food pieces from their favorite play kitchen. What’s important is the smile on their faces when they realize that they already know how to organize! From this activity we can try out text and picture examples.

For older students who struggle with recognizing main and supporting ideas I like to talk with them about other everyday activities that involve recognizing levels of information: websites, computer games, favorite TV shows, chapters in books.

Once your child has experienced some success, then the idea of main ideas does not seem so daunting. Scaffolding learning is key.

Does your child need Academic Support?

Let’s face it.  Classroom teachers, at any level, do not have time to tutor each student.  True, there are teachers who give of themselves indefatigably and then there are those whose doors are closed at the end of the day.  If your school has extra funding for tutors (usually because they have not met state and federal testing goals), there may be after school tutoring programs, but this is not the norm.  As parents and grandparents we need to be able to evaluate our student’s progress and happiness with school.

Happiness?  How do we measure happiness?  I use the term happiness here not as a valid measurement of academic achievement but rather as a way of  taking your child’s temperature – or, measuring your child’s temperament for school.  Does your child look forward to going to school or is it a fight to get her on the bus every morning?

What is Literacy?

The word literacy gets thrown around quite a bit these days. There’s computer literacy, math literacy, and financial literacy — usually meaning to gain competence in any subject area. In many cases, gaining competence also means being able to read, write, and speak about any subject area. For me, literacy means teaching the skills necessary to communicate your ideas academically and professionally.

For education this requires scaffolded, differentiated instruction which in some cases is best acquired with a literacy specialist. For a first grader learning reading comprehension, literacy means being competent in letters and sounds that work together to make words, sentences, paragraphs, and finally stories.

For a third grader, literacy may mean writing her own stories with illustrations followed by showing and telling (or sharing) with teachers and classmates. As a child develops, reading and writing skills can waiver as other literacies compete for a child’s attention. If unnoticed, gaps in literacy skills can be detrimental to a child’s education.

Children read and write in EVERY SUBJECT.

Next time: learn how a literacy specialist can help close the gap in early literacy learning.