One of the most common concerns that a parent will present to me is their child's weak comprehension skills. When we talk together, we cover many areas of concern where each variable plays an important role in impacting their child's specific challenges. However, in general, I will always review the 4 strengths every child must possess in order to comprehend successfully.
The first strength, as you can probably guess, is strong cognitive skills. Strong cognitive skills, in this case, means making sure, through assessment, that your child has the skills needed to remember and recall. This translates into having the ability to visualize pictures in their head in order to capture the story for retelling. It means making sure your child's ability to process the words and sounds they are reading without errors so they are reading and "hearing" the correct word.
Having strong cognitive skills for reading comprehension means making sure your child has several strong foundational strengths. This means having the ability to attend to the content, can process at a speed necessary so their short-term memory can make sense of the information; your child's memory areas (visual/auditory/working) are strong and large enough to hold the incoming information for recall and processing and that your child can make sense (understand) of what is being read. Phew, that is a lot to digest. All of these skills lay the foundation for reading comprehension. There are other cognitive skills that play into comprehending well but the above skills are crucial.
Once your child's cognitive skills are strong, your child now has the "ability" to comprehend. This still doesn't mean, necessarily that your child knows how to comprehend yet. That is why my Student Transformation System not only strengthens your child's ability to learn but also makes sure your child has the basics on how to learn.
The second strength every child must possess is the ability to decode what is being read. Your child needs to be secure in sound-to-code and code-to-sound. Why? If your child cannot decode a word to read it, most likely they are skipping over it entirely. This alone will leave your child with only parts of the story for recall. Worst case scenario is that the word or words that they skip over or decode incorrectly may be the adjective or verb that is leading to a climax or the main idea of the story. The sentence won't make a lot of sense with words missing so when your child reaches for the recall, it will be choppy at best. When I work with your child, I make sure they are able to decode/encode successfully.
The third strength every child needs for successful comprehension is the ability to recognize those words that cannot be decoded through strategy. Some reading programs have pages and pages and pages of these words which will require your child to have strong memory skills (auditory/visual/working and long-term memory) to retain and recall these words. Processing skills and speed along with attention need to be strong for the memory to be successful. When I work with your child, all these skills are strengthened. I use Master the Code which only has literally one page of words that are exceptions. Once your child has these irregular or sight words integrated into their memory and can recall them, you need to make sure they understand them.
The fourth strength I always talk about with a parent is the ability to understand language. Your child's purpose for reading may start out for entertainment reasons but as he/she gets older the purpose becomes more towards gaining information to learn. Your child needs to be able to read to learn; to gain benefit from the words and content. To be able to do this task, your child needs to understand the language, not just read decode it correctly.
Your child's expressive vocabulary, the words and meanings understood when your child is speaking or writing may be strong. However, a crucial piece for comprehension is your child's receptive vocabulary skills. Receptive vocabulary refers to your child's ability to understand the meaning of the words that are spoken verbally. This counts for the words given to your child when reading content from a teacher's notes, test questions or when participating in a discussion in class. If your child doesn't understand the meaning of the word than there is a good chance your child will not know what is being asked by the teacher. This is when your child can answer a literal factual question and get it right but when the data is presented along with words your child is not familiar with then they get the answer wrong. When I work with your child, we work through the first three steps and then touch upon this step using receptive vocabulary interventions. I will assess your child's receptive vocabulary skills and together we create a road map for success.
The above 4 strengths are required for your child to comprehend successfully. Each step is a small jaunt towards a bigger life-long journey. Set up your free 30 minute consult with me today and we can begin to pinpoint what is sabotaging your child from learning and comprehending.