Reading comprehension. Now just what is that? Simple answer: being able to understand what you read. Simple right; not for some, and maybe a larger segment of the student population nationwide then we care to admit.
This problem is not a new one, and the school system has been fighting this invisible monster from the beginning. Some might say they, the school system, is not doing enough, but are you as a parent helping out, and do you know if your child is having a problem with Reading Comprehension in the first place? The first indicators are simple to spot -- missing homework assignments and low test scores.
Missing homework assignment
If the child does not understand what he or she is supposed to do ether from the home work sheet or teacher instructions or cannot understand the subject matter put forth in the text book they will quite simply not do or complete the assignment. A text book is an inanimate object that some find intimidating. Why?
A sixth-grade text book will have new words, and explanations for those new words, both in the main body and the glossary. This is the case from around fourth grade on. If students do not use the text book correctly, or have found the section where the answers to the chapter test are, and use this section to answer the questions instead of answering them their selves and then checking to see if their answers are correct -- they are cheating themselves. This takes as much effort, if not more, than doing the assignment the right way. But doing it the right way takes an understanding of the subject matter. So the student learns little or nothing by cheating.
You might be saying, “Well that’s the case for reading or English or history, but how about science and math?” The math text book has to explain operations and methods to the student, and mathematics has its own vocabulary – new words -- as does science. This all hinges on how well the students read and understand explanations; how well they comprehend what they read.
I have a simple way to check for lack of comprehension. Take an active interest in your child’s schooling. For one, this will let your child know that you are taking a pro-active approach and that you will be checking on them, and two, they are not alone in their pursuit of higher learning. Now the key question to ask is “Can you explain that to me?” This is usually followed by the big blank stare. And there you have it: no reading comprehension.
The big thing today seems to be not looking like a geek, fitting in and getting out of things that do not sound fun. We all now live in a throwaway consumer culture; a society seeking instant gratification; and this bleeds over into our children’s attitudes about life. Some of us would like nothing more than to take a pill and instantly know what we want to know, or have it implanted into our brains. This is a notion that has been put forth in many sci-fi movies, but it is after all science fiction. Until then we will have to work our brains to get the knowledge in, and be it on a computer or a book you have to be able to understand what you read.