Saturday, November 6, 2010

Reading Comprehension

Question posted by someone on the Listen-Up email group:

I have a friend who has a child who is deaf, CI user, oral/does not sign much at all and in third grade.  Her child reads at grade level but the reading comprehension is at a first grade level.  They are considering holding back a year and Mom doesn't want that to happen. Any programs or ideas on how to work with reading comprehension with this child?

My thoughts:
Reading comprehension is a very broad term.  I would want to know where in the process the child is faltering.

You say the child can read on grade level.  What does that mean?  Recognizing words in a flash card environment?  Sounding out unfamiliar words?

My son is in 3rd grade, and darn some of the reading comprehension questions are really hard!  And subtle.

So how do you get from point A, verbalizing a word you see on a flash card, to point B, answering an inferential question, ie. infer from paragraph 3 Jack's true intention in hiding the pumpkin before his sister came home from school.

Any of these points could cause a 'failure' of comprehension:
Does not understand complex grammar
Does not understand possessive and/or plural s  (this is an issue for my son)
Lack of vocabulary
Test anxiety
Test taking skills
Poor phonics - if child mainly learns words as 'sight' words vs. being able to sound them out, school will only get harder as time goes on
Poor understanding of the parts of words (un- , pre-, -ed, etc)
Lack of time - some issues with any of the above and needs extra time to think it all thru and pull it together

I could go on, but you get the idea.

How is comprehension being tested?  Multiple choice?  Free hand writing?  Does child do better with one or the other?  ie.  If gets multiple choice questions right, maybe it is a language expression issue.

How is the child's speech?  Are they able to orally hear a story and then reply verbally with inferences and conclusions?  It may not be reading comprehension per se, but language comprehension.

And finally, plain old quantity of reading time - read to child, read with child, child read alone.  (You know, that it takes 10,000 hours to become a true master of a skill)  So for instance, a conservative estimate for a typical 8 year old (advantaged) child that has been read to or reading to himself a minimum of 30 min a day from birth.  That would put him at about 1500 hours of reading so far.  If the child you are talking about missed out on months, maybe years of reading before hearing loss was handled, may need lots of extra reading now to make it up.

Good luck

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