Is Your Child Reading For Meaning? 10 Questions to Ask Yourself

reading for meaning

Reading for meaning, or reading comprehension, refers to an understanding of what’s been read, and is one of the five essential elements of reading instruction.

Parents play an important role in developing their child’s comprehension skills, which takes practice and patience. To better understand whether your child is reading for meaning, you can start by asking yourself the following questions:

1. Is my child paying attention? Ask your child literal comprehension questions, which are questions that require an answer that can be found directly in the text, for example, ‘What was the rabbit’s friend called?’ This will encourage your child to pay close attention to key information in the text. Reading Eggs is carefully designed to build reading comprehension in young children (see how it works with a free trial here).

2. Can they draw conclusions based on what they have read? Ask inferential comprehension questions, which are a bit trickier and require answers that are less obvious. These questions encourage your child to draw conclusions based on what they have read, for example, ‘Why do you think the rabbit felt afraid to go into the garden?’

3. Are they asking questions? Proficient readers know when they understand what they read and when they do not. If your child is reading for meaning, they may sometimes ask questions about what certain things mean. This shows that they are thinking about what they are reading.

4. Are they able to stop and answer questions? Asking your child questions helps them focus their attention and think actively about what they are reading. Ask questions about the text while you are reading together, such as, ‘Why do you think the wolf did that?’ or ‘How do you think the little boy feels now?’

5. Can they make connections between what they’ve read and what they already know?  Observe whether your child is able to relate what they are reading to prior experiences and knowledge. They may even make connections between what they are reading currently and what they have already read in the past.

6. Can they make predictions? Stop periodically while reading to encourage your child to predict what might happen next. Readers who read for meaning are able to take what they have already read and make predictions about the story before it ends.

7. Can they visualise and describe what they’ve read with few illustrations? After reading a text, ask your child to summarise what they’ve read or illustrate the events. Practise doing this with books that include little or no illustrations.

8. Can they support their interpretations or ideas about what they’re reading by giving examples? Talk to your child about the text and ask them how they think or feel about it. Ask them to give you examples in the text to support their interpretations, for example, ‘What part of the story makes you think that?’

9. Can they describe the character’s moods and motives? Ask your child to talk about how the characters in the text might be feeling, or why they have taken specific courses of action.

10. Can they identify the main idea in the text? When you’ve finished reading, ask your child to tell you what happened in their own words. Observe whether they can determine the most important information in the text.

Reading for meaning is a big part of learning to develop a lifelong love of reading. To help your child build their comprehension skills, read our previous blog posts Building Comprehension Skills and Overcoming Comprehension Difficulties.

Visit www.readingeggs.com to see how your child can learn how to read while having fun with Reading Eggs!

Top 10 Back to School Reading Tips for Parents

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As many of us prepare for another year of helping our kids overcome the notorious holiday reading slide, here are ten back to school reading tips you can do now to prepare your child for the year ahead.

1. Get back into a routine. Switching suddenly from a holiday to a school schedule can be stressful for everyone in the household, so it’s always best to start as early as possible. If you had a regular reading time with your child in the afternoons or evenings, try to ease back into it as early as you can.

2. Make a special reading spot. After endless distractions over the break, it’s a good idea to make a special reading spot in the house which doubles up as a distraction-free zone. Make sure your child’s reading spot is quiet, comfortable, and within close range of a good selection of reading material.

3. Surround your child with books. Studies show that children who are constantly surrounded by books and reading material perform better in school than their peers who don’t. Try to make sure there is age-appropriate reading material around the house, on their devices, in the car and on-hand anytime your child has to wait, such as at the doctor’s office.

4. Restrict television and video games. We all know it can be difficult for reading to compete with the television and video games, and the holiday break is often filled with both! Ease into having a set television schedule and try to encourage reading time as a leisurely activity.

5. Be a good reading partner. It’s much more fun to read when you’re not forced to do it and don’t feel embarrassed about making mistakes. Take turns reading with your child and be patient and encouraging when they come across a word they don’t know. Make reading time a fun time to relax, unwind and bond after a long day.

6. Re-read difficult sentences. When your child has sounded out a difficult word, have them re-read the whole sentence one more time “with feeling”. Often children are too busy figuring out a word that they lose the meaning of what they’ve just read. Beginner readers will often guess wildly at a word based on its first letter.

7. Create a book together. Reignite your child’s enthusiasm for books and reading by creating your own homemade books. This fun activity helps children increase their concentration span and strengthen their reading and writing skills to ease them back into the swing of things at school.

8. Find everyday opportunities to read. You can’t overestimate the power of reading everyday items with your child, especially for beginner readers. Read aloud anything with words and encourage your child to see reading as a way of discovering the world. Read road signs, billboards, menus, and cereal boxes – anything with words on it!

9. Restock your library. Whether they’re the hardcovers on your bookshelf or the tap-and-swipe e-books on your device, you can inspire your child to get back into the reading habit with a fresh collection of new titles. Let them choose their own books and create their own personal collection to get them excited about diving back in.

10. Choose books that are at the right level. If your child has taken a long break from reading, you can help them pick it up again and avoid any discouragement by choosing a book that’s not too challenging or too boring for them. Use the Five Finger Rule to quickly and easily determine if a book is suitable for your child’s reading level.

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Reading Eggs is the multi-award winning online reading website for children aged 3-13. With a comprehensive range of self-paced lessons and games, the program is a highly interactive and fun way to build your child’s reading skills for school.

5 Tips to Encourage Independent Reading

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Independent reading is the end product of all the skills your child has learned from your regular reading sessions together. It may be daunting at first, but it is the best practice they can get to become fluent, confident readers.

Try the following to help motivate your child to read on their own:

  • Let them choose – your child will be so much more motivated to read on their own if they choose books that they’re interested in.
  • Set reading goals – give your child something to work towards, for example, they can aim to finish a book before the end of the week, or learn five new words from a book they are reading.
  • Regular reading time – designate a special time after school when your child can read without being disturbed. Setting a regular time will help them get into the habit of reading regularly, and it will soon become a part of their normal daily routine.
  • Be on hand to help – make sure you’re around if your child has any questions about words they can’t read or don’t know the meaning of. If they are having trouble with a word or sentence, try and give them hints to see if they can work it out themselves, instead of simply giving them the answer.
  • Let them tell you all about it – like most people, when you finish a book you want to tell people about it and share your thoughts. Discuss your child’s book with them and ask them questions that will help their comprehension, like ‘Who were the main characters?’ ‘What did you think when…’. ‘What was your favourite part?’

Visit www.readingeggs.com to see how your child can learn how to read while having fun with Reading Eggs.