Reading-Comprehension Skills - Part II

Do you remember that 'reading' means understanding the author's message, not just calling out words? If you cannot answer comprehension questions after reading a page, you have not truly read anything.

There are specific reading-comprehension skills that will help you understand what you are reading. Whereas my last article focused on Main Idea, Predicting Outcomes, Inferences, and Fact or Opinion; this article will cover Context Clues, Cause and Effect, Drawing Conclusions, and Sequencing. When reading with your children, be sure to ask questions that reinforce these comprehension skills, especially during summer vacation or other long absences from school.

1. Context Clues - When you are reading, suppose you come across a word that you have never seen or heard before. If you understand the other words, sentences, and paragraphs that come before and after the new word, you will be able to figure out what that new word means.

Example: Two friends met and had a persiflage over lunch. They talked about
seeing a movie, going shopping, or going to the beach.

Can you tell that 'persiflage' means light, frivolous talk? The two friends did not discuss anything of major importance.

2. Cause and Effect - We all know that actions have consequences. Think of the actions as causes and the effects as their consequences.

Example: The Miami Heat want the fans to wear white during the NBA Finals
games. As a result, the seats in the arena are filled with fans wearing White Hot shirts!

WHY are the fans wearing White Hot shirts? They are wearing white shirts
BECAUSE the Miami Heat requested it. When you ask a why question (the effect), you want to know the reason (the cause). Clue phrases that indicate a cause is to follow include 'as a result' and 'in order to'.

3. Drawing Conclusions - Sometimes you will be asked a question about
information that has not been given. There will be enough clues, however, for
you to imply the meaning.

Example: Marvin was exuberant that his parents were allowing him to stay up past his bedtime so he could see the fireworks at a nearby park. Luckily, there would be a great view from his own patio! The fireworks were scheduled to start at 11:30 PM but, by 10:30, Marvin was feeling extremely tired. When he woke up the next morning, Marvin asked his mother why the fireworks had been cancelled.

Although the information is not directly given, you can draw the conclusion that Marvin was so tired that he fell asleep and missed the fireworks.

4. Sequencing - As the old saying goes, "Put one step in front of the other."
When you are putting directions or events in sequential order, you start at the beginning and go step-by-step, in a logical or chronological order, to reach a conclusion. Young children just learning this skill begin their sentences with First, Next, Then, and Last; older children do not necessarily need those key words.

Example: She rubbed some oil on top of it. My mom went to the store and bought a chicken. Into the oven it went! Following that, she sprinkled some
seasoning over it.

As written above, this story does not make sense. Who put oil on top of what? Do you really season a chicken after it is in the oven? (Basting does not count!) The correct version would read like this:

My mom went to the store and bought a chicken. She rubbed some oil on top of it. Following that, she sprinkled some seasoning over it. Into the oven it went!

To review, then, there are specific reading-comprehension skills that will aid
in your understanding of the written word. A few of these skills are context
clues, cause and effect, drawing conclusions, and sequencing.

I hope these examples are useful and have inspired your own creative thinking.

And remember...Reading is FUNdamental!

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