Q: I assume my child is working on her social studies reading assignment, but it turns out she’s just doodling and daydreaming. This happens whenever she has to read for homework. I end up frustrated, and she ends up in tears. What should we do?
A: Long after children can sound out all the words on a page, they may still have problems understanding what they read. If your child seems to struggle when she has to read a textbook, she’s not alone. Effective textbook reading involves a step-by-step process. Here are some tips:
1. Get ready. Before your child starts to read, have her take a few minutes to look through the chapter and ask herself some questions. What does she think this reading will be about? Have her look at pictures, diagrams or charts. What clues do they offer?
2. Scan the reading quickly. Are there any paragraph headings that suggest the content of the reading?
3. Take a look at the questions at the end of the chapter. They are always a good guide to the reading.
4. Read the chapter. Your child might first read it silently, then later read it aloud to you.
5. Consider the main idea. Before delving into the details, your child should have a good grasp of the central theme.
6. Read the questions at the end of the selection again. Can your child answer the questions? If there is a question she can’t answer, have her pick out one or two key words in the question. Then look back through the reading to find the place in the text that includes those words. Have your child read that part again.