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Using the R.E.A.D. Method to Improve Reading Comprehension

written by: Donna Clarke • edited by: Noreen Gunnell • updated: 10/9/2013

Reading opens the mind to endless opportunities and possibilities. R.E.A.D. is a simple process that both parents and teachers can use to help improve reading comprehension in children. So get ready to Read, Encourage, Appreciate & Discuss.

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    One of the greatest gifts a parent can give their child is the gift of reading. Quite simply, reading opens the mind to endless opportunities and possibilities. From mythical worlds explored to mathematical riddles solved, the benefits accompanying the joy of reading are endless. Whether you are a beginning homeschooling parent, a seasoned veteran, a beloved guardian wishing to enhance the reading comprehension ability of a child, or a parent who wants to have a lifelong shared experience of immense joy and fulfillment, while going on amazing and exciting adventures with your child, this simple concept will provide an experience both you and your child will treasure always.

    R.E.A.D., or Read, Encourage, Appreciate and Discuss, is designed to foster not only a love of reading, but also a comprehension of what is read as well as an appreciation of the author's message. It encourages individual interpretation, while allowing you to explore all the wondrous possible options left by both the reader and the author. Not age dependent, this concept is best begun early, but can be easily adapted throughout both primary and secondary grades. For primary grades, when used in conjunction with The Rhythm of Reading, the R.E.A.D. formula offers the opportunity for a unique learning experience for both you and your child.

    R = READ: Reading is both a passive and active experience. As such, reading to your students is as important as reading with your students. William Russell stated it best in his book Classics to Read Aloud to Your Children: "Reading to your child may be the single, most powerful contribution that you, as a parent, can make toward their success in school."

    By reading to your students, you are able to emphasize points of the story where greater attention to detail ought to be paid. Moreover, by reading to young students, you offer them the opportunity to gain a greater imaginative ability and develop stronger comprehension skills through visualization. This is especially true for students who might be slower in developing actual reading skills.

    E = Encourage: Encouraging input and asking your child's opinion with respect to portions of the story or components of the characters not only improves comprehension, but also greater self-confidence as your child understands the value of his or her interpretation, and hones the ability to substantiate it through a deeper understanding of the components of the story. Moreover, by repeating the story using different inflections and dialects, you offer your child unique perspectives into a variety of interpretations, allowing him or her to determine whether the conclusions drawn with respect to the story are universal.

    A =Appreciate: Appreciate the distinction between interpretation and comprehension of a story. Emphasizing the ability to draw different interpretations allows your child the unique ability to learn to see different perspectives and ideas, making possibilities become endless. While appreciating this wondrous gift, allow for clarification of points where comprehension might be vague or confused. By recognizing the difference between comprehension and interpretation, you afford your child the ability to not only appreciate more of what is read, but also the capacity to respect the distinctions found by others reading the material.

    D = Discuss: By discussing with your child the story both during and after it is read, he or she quickly realizes that not only do you value his understanding of the story, but you also have an understanding as well and you are eager to share opinions. It also gives you the opportunity to ensure the key points of comprehension are achieved in an enthusiastic and stress-free way. Most importantly, this open dialog sets a precedent of mutual trust, respect and value of opinion which, when nurtured, can last a lifetime.

    Reading comprehension is singularly the greatest gift a parent can give a child with respect to education. It opens the door to endless possibilities and unending exploration. As a parent or teacher, all you need to do is: R.E.A.D.