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Keys to Comprehension
Reading is the gift of wonder, adventure and knowledge. It can only be fully appreciated and recognized when accompanied with comprehension. Knowledge of words is simply not enough. The meaning, symbolism, intent of the author and significance of the words used comprise the true gift of understanding...true comprehension. How do we help children achieve this comprehension? How can we help them understand more than just the words? Just keep things C.L.E.A.R.
C.L.E.A.R.: Conversation, Listen, Eyes, Action, Read are five simple concepts that, when applied, will help your child improve his or her ability to understand, as well as appreciate, the material being read. These simple steps are a reflective, interactive process, regardless of whether the child is being read to or reads on his or her own. Each step can work with the others, or stand alone, depending upon the individual capabilities of the reader.
C = Conversation: Conversations with your child about material read afford a unique opportunity to reinforce concepts and obtuse perspectives. Demonstrate alternate interpretations and perspectives to allow your child to perceive concepts and ideas in new and intriguing ways, thus developing a broader sense of understanding.
L = Listen: Reinforce the concept of teaching one's mind to listen while reading, becoming more aware of what is being read. This tool will prove invaluable toward the overall retention and comprehension of material as well as the ability to reach different interpretations of works. Hearing and seeing the words in your mind's eye is a skill learned over time, without surrounding distraction or visual and auditory stimulation unrelated to what is being read. Though it is easy to become frustrated at the pace of this step, patience and understanding are key components to its success.
E= Eyes: Visual stimulation should directly relate to the story's content. For young children, pictures of the story allow them to more closely identify with the characters, setting, plot, etc. Be careful not to pigeonhole the story by restricting your child's options to the descriptions within the story. Moreover, for children who are more tactile, reading to them while having them draw what they see in the story creates a more concrete picture. Be aware of the potential for their minds to wander however, and be prepared to bring them back to the storyline, should they stray off topic.
A = Action: Action keeps attention. For younger readers, have them demonstrate the story, or what they perceive to be a pivotal point, using puppets, costumes and props. For older children, have them create a screenplay of the work, acting out scenes they have re-written and believe to be integral to the overall spirit of the book. Moreover, older children can take on the role of editor, adding or removing portions of a work in order to create a work they believe better relates to the reader, and then provide reasons for the changes.
R = Read: Reading is key to better comprehension. Through reading comes the opportunity for conversation, the ability to see things through the mind's eye, and develop ways for change. Through reading, possibilities are endless. However, without reading, possibilities end. Thoughts are thwarted, imaginations quelled, and desires squashed. By offering a variety of reading material covering a myriad of subjects of different genre, you allow your child to fully benefit from the act of reading.
In an electronic world, the act of reading is becoming obsolete. Letters are being replaced with emails, newspapers are now on-line e-papers, and books are on tape or downloadable. With an ever faster paced society, complete with abbreviated words and quick communication, comprehension suffers. Give your child a truly treasured gift...read a book and keep comprehension C.L.E.A.R.