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Questions to Ask Your Kids About Their Reading

1. Can you tell me the main idea of this section?

Finding the main idea in text is a huge focus of testing, and an essential skill for good readers. Every book, every article, every website has a main idea and supporting details. If you practice doing this frequently, your child will be vastly better prepared to do well in school and to understand his or her reading. Your child's response to this question will also help you see if she needs to go back and reread to gain a better understanding.

2. What do you think will happen next?

When a child can make a reasonable prediction about a story, it is a clear indication that he has understood the reading and is also able to extend his thinking. Also, kids love guessing what will happen next in a story, and when they are correct, they get really excited. This is a great way to get your child thinking deeply about the reading and enjoying it more at the same time!

3. What are you wondering about?

Questioning is a huge part of building reading comprehension. When kids are encouraged to wonder about their reading, they begin to see that they can have a relationship with the text. Have them write questions on sticky notes and refer back to them to see if they are answered later in the text. If their questions aren't answered, look them up online. Ideally, this will also lead kids to develop strong interests and increase their motivation to learn and read.

4. What experience/book/idea does this remind you of?

In school, kids are asked to make text-to-self, text-to-text and text-to-world connections with their reading. Do the same at home. We learn by connecting our previous knowledge to new concepts and ideas. By helping kids make explicit connections with their reading, you are actively helping them access their background knowledge. They also become more attached to and interested in their reading when they realize it connects to their lives and experiences.

5. Were there any words in this section you didn't understand?

Reading provides a constant opportunity for vocabulary building. Have your child identify a few words in her reading she doesn't know. First have her attempt to define the words by looking at the surrounding words, or by learning prefixes, suffixes and root words. If this fails, have her find the word in a children's dictionary. Then make an effort to use the new vocabulary on a frequent basis. Write them on note cards, have your child add an illustration, slap on a bit pf magnetic tape, and put them on the fridge. Then, encourage her to spell them and use them in conversation. This will not only help her to understand more complex books, but also give her additional vocabulary to use in her writing as well.