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.