I like to divide reading comprehension activities into three parts: those you can do before opening the book, those that are most helpful as the child reads, and those that help him organize his thoughts and sum up the events of the story after he finishes reading. These activities are fun but intensive. By no means should you feel obligated to go through each one of these for each book you and your child read together. I am offering a range of possibilities. You must decide which of these best suit you and your child. There is no one right way or one set formula to teach comprehension skills to your child. The idea is to transfer a way of thinking about reading to your child. Once he has assimilated this way of actively thinking about reading, he is an independent reader.
Comprehension: The Trouble Signs (from page 246)
One of the added benefits of sitting alongside your child and reading with him is that it gives you insight into his ability to comprehend what he is reading. Below are some of the signs of a child who is having trouble comprehending what he is reading:
He doesn't seem to get much from his reading.
He has trouble answering the question "What was the book about?"
He doesn't enjoy reading.
He spends the same amount of time on easy passages as he does on difficult ones.
He doesn't finish what he begins to read.
He doesn't seem to be able to relate his reading to things he knows.
He has trouble drawing inferences from his reading; his interpretations are always extremely literal.
He can't quite come up with main ideas or summarize what he has read.
He can't distinguish important ideas from lesser ones in the text.
He has trouble making predictions.
He rarely looks back at earlier pages to check his reading.
He says reading is boring or tiring.
He avoids reading.
Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions (page 278)
What is the best way to monitor my child's progress in a reading program?
Two complementary approaches, when combined, provide up-to-date monitoring of a child's rate of progress and his level of achievement in reading. One is called curriculum-based measurement (CBM) and relies on ongoing measurements of reading fluency (ideally, weekly; minimally, three times during a school year) using the child's classroom reading materials. This is meant to establish how fast he is acquiring new knowledge. The other method, which is not intended for very frequent administration, uses standardized reading tests and assesses reading performance periodically vis-à-vis his age-mates.