Third Grader Reads at School But Doesn’t Comprehend

Question: My third grader reads stories at school, but can't answer a single question about them afterwards. What can I do?
I'm so glad you asked. Here's a tip to try.
There are many ways to help her learn to understand. I have one method that really works well if the child is willing to work with her parent or a partner. It could be a sibling, a neighbor, aunt, uncle. Someone in your child's life who cares like you do.
Does your daughter have a favorite book? It can be very easy; it doesn't have to be at third grade level. It shouldn't be at third grade level! Work up to that slowly. 

Tell her that you're going to try an experiment. She is to picture the book in her mind as a video, or a series of pictures, sentence by sentence. Read it to her, one sentence at a time, or one paragraph at a time, depending on her reading level and understanding. 

After each sentence, ask her what she sees in her video or picture. The reason for offering both is that different children imagine or envision things in different ways. Some kids might even prefer to use real people, places and things in their mind's eye. 

Encourage her to describe it and ask for details if she's enjoying it. The longer and more clearly she "sees" the picture, the better her memory and understanding of what's happening on the page will become.

If she has nothing to say, model it for her. Talk through the things you think as you read the sentences, the things you see in your mind. This is called a Think-Aloud. When your child sees you doing this each day, ttalking to her as you leisurely read and enjoy a book,she will gradually chime in. Many kids take it over, before long!

Continue only until she begins to lose interest. Some kids can do this for a long time and feel fully engaged. Others can only handle a few pages at a time. Definitely finish the book each time, even if it takes a few days. 

This is one way to begin the process of showing her how to learn to understand what she reads. There are many steps after this, and I'll include them here soon. 

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