Improve Your Kids' Reading Comprehension By Having Them Predict What They're About To Read

Photo: David D, Flickr

Reading with your kids is important. We all know this. If you're like me, you dive into book after book with abandon.

But it turns out that by ploughing through stories, we may be missing a key step: Prediction. According to educators, we should be getting our children to think about what they'll be reading before they begin.

Otis Kriegel, a primary school teacher in New York City, explains why in this video:

When your kid takes the time to contemplate what they're about to read, making predictions based on what they already know, they'll be more invested in the story and more likely to understand and retain the material.

It isn't about being right or wrong in the end, but about sparking that feeling of "Oooh, I can't wait to find out what happens next!" That feeling, of course, is what turns us into lifelong readers.

Here are some ways to help young kids predict what they're reading:

  • Show them the cover and ask, "What do you think this book will be about? Why?"
  • Take a "picture walk", as Kriegel suggests. Flip through the pages of illustrated book and without reading any words, get them to form their own ideas about the story. (If their ideas are way off — say, the pictures show a tractor on a farm and your kid hypothesises that monkeys will be dropping down from outer space — have a discussion after you finish the book about how the illustrations give clues about the story.)
  • Use Post-Its to cover important words in the story and see if they can guess what those words are when they land upon them.
  • In the middle of a story, stop and ask them what they think is going to happen on the next page.
  • Use the "I think ______ because ______" structure. If you're into worksheets, have them fill out this one to help them organise their thoughts.
  • After the final page, ask, "If you could write the next chapter, what would happen?" It helps them to stay curious even after the story ends.

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