Dr. Linda Answers Your Questions | Reading but Doesn’t Get It

Dr. Linda's School Success Q & ADear Dr. Linda,

My son is in fourth grade and he loves to read, but he has no idea what he’s reading! He reads stories to his younger brother who is four. My four-year-old can tell me about the story, but his fourth grade brother can’t. I’m concerned there’s something wrong with him. -Janet

Dear Janet,

What’s happening is that he’s learned to read as if he’s reading a word list. He’s not visualizing an image in his head nor is thinking about the story. Also, he may not be focusing. All he’s doing is reading words.

For starters, talk about the story before he reads it. Talk about who or what it will be about, where it takes place, when it occurs. Look at the pictures, read the back cover, look at the chapter titles.

Now, as he reads he’ll be looking for information to see if he was right or wrong. In either case, he’ll be focused on the content, not just the words.

Next, be sure he understands the vocabulary. Many children don’t understand what they’re reading because they don’t know the meaning of the words.

Also, have him ask you questions about the story. This will keep him engaged in the story as he looks for questions to stump you.

Finally, find reading material that interests him and share the reading. Take time to talk about the story as you read along.

Continue to encourage him to read to his younger brother. It’s not only fun and good for your four-year-old, it will help your nine-year-old gain comprehension skills because the stories are easy to understand. When you need to practice a skill, it’s good to begin with “easy.”

Wishing you and your son a great school year with lots of enjoyable reading,
Dr. Linda

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