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Ask A Reading Teacher

Dear Reading Teacher,

Sometimes when my son reads, it seems like he is just mouthing the words. I don’t know if he really knows what the book says. Will understanding just come later as he gets better at reading?

Sammy’s Mom

Dear Sammy’s Mom,

Understanding does improve as students become better decoders, but there are ways to help it along. One of the best methods is to read to Sammy daily. As you read, stop frequently to question for understanding. Make this into a discussion rather than a test. What has happened so far? What do you think will happen next? Why do you think the character did that? The questions should be of the type that draw out discussion rather than just “yes” or “no” answers.

Another stumbling block to understanding involves children selecting books that are too difficult for their skills. As parents we always want our children to do the most outstanding work. It just makes us proud. Don’t push your child into reading a book he is not ready for. Children really do become better readers by reading their old favorites again and again. They also become better readers when they read books that are a bit too easy. It seems counterintuitive, but when children practice reading material they are comfortable with, their reading skills soar. Stay tuned for more tips on deepening understanding for your young readers out there.


Is it a waste to take your first grader to the theater to see a play? Are there even plays appropriate for first graders? Is there any value in drama in elementary school? We’ll tackle these and more questions about the land of the Bard next month in our July newsletter. Don’t miss it!

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