Bridging the Gap between Phonics and Comprehension

Betty - posted on 05/09/2010 ( 5 moms have responded )

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Perhaps the greatest obstacle to reading comprehension is that traditional reading programs fail to adequately address precursor skills - phonemic awareness and phonics taught in a direct and systematic fashion. Those two function as an aid in allowing students to derive meaning from print, the ultimate purpose for reading. Holistic practitioners will probably take exception to that but in doing so fail to see the symbiosis that exists between phonics and comprehension. You can't comprehend what you can't decode. If we could bridge this chasm, we would see that phonics opens doors that allow children full participation in a whole language world.

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Samantha - posted on 05/17/2010

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Thanks Betty! I do notice that when he is reading an informational book, he can pretty much tell me about all the facts he read in it! He really likes to read books with facts as opposed to story books. He also tends to be very hands on while "looking" at things to figure out what it might do. I will be reading with my son tonight and will have him read out loud to gauge how fast he is reading. Hopefully they'll be reading another chapter book.

He recognizes so many different words and families at this point. I am just so impressed with his reading and spelling thus far, as everybody around him is. He hasn't had lower than a 100 on his spelling tests this year! They often have 2-4 bonus words on their tests. "Echolocation" was one of the bonus words of the last two weeks. The poor child knows how to spell all of his words on the first day they are given to him and can give the definition as well. Unfortunately they have to practice the words for two weeks before their test. I suppose what I'm saying is that it's not that he doesn't understand what he's reading. He knows how to find the meaning of a word he doesn't understand in the text. And if he can't do that, he asks. I think, maybe like me, he doesn't really know what the teacher wants to know about a book when she says retell it. I had an issue with this as well, as a child. I am fairly bright, but all I could think was, do you want a book report or just some basics. He was able to retell his latest story to me over the weekend without having the book on hand. I did give him some prompts but nothing to really give anything away. We'll keep practicing with your suggestions and let you know how it goes. This child could be one of our future "honest" politicians! LOL He was giving speeches to us before he could actually talk- it was all babble- and would pause for applause from us. His teacher thinks maybe he could be a financial advisor also, as he is amazing at math. We're practicing his multiplication at home with him already.
Thank you for your time and we'll be in touch!

Betty - posted on 05/16/2010

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Kelly it appears that he is a visual learner everyone one us has a specific way we learn best. It appears that your son learns best by lookingat things in a visual context seeing images is great because he can visualize things in his mind. Let him learn the way he isi most comfortable. Learning word families will only increase his fluency. Our briaqns are wired to learn to read through sounds and patterns. By teaching word familes and rhyming you are showing him patterns he needs to learn. if you care too you can checkout my site on facebook funniwthphonics tutoring.

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We used a version of the DISTAR method modified for home school use. My son is 5, I don't know what level he is reading at b/c he has not started school yet (he starts this fall) but he reads your average kids books--From Danny and the Dinosaur up to Goosebumps, which have short chapters.

His comprehension seems great to me, but the pictures help immensely. I notice that when I ask him about a story that had pictures, he can tell me a lot more about the story, even parts not portrayed in the pictures, but when I ask him about a story with no pictures, he seems lost. But, If I just draw a picture, say a stick figure playing baseball for a story about baseball, and he sees it before reading the story, he can tell me all about the story when he's done--I think that's weird.

The DISTAR method focused on putting sounds together, but not on word families, rhyming or other things I associated with learning to read.

I think he's doing well, but I don't have much to gage him by, and I don't know if the stories they read in kindy have pictures or not. If they do, I'm sure he'll do fine, but I do wonder if this will go away. Not many books have pictures.

Betty - posted on 05/14/2010

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Samantha it appears that your son is very smart. Does he know how to recognize all the word families along with diphthongs, long vowels etc? If he does and then then after he reads each page ask him what the story was about who were the characters in the story. It is a good idea to find out his individual learning style. Some children learn in a more visual context actually seeing images while others like to hear auditory while still others have to red the book and do an activity that actually relates to the book. Another problem maybe that he reads too fast thus he doesn't absorb the context. What are his interests ? Try giving him a book about something that interests him and then ask him the retell the story to you. If he has trouble prompt him by asking him what was the character doing in the story. Some helpful prompts will bring back the information and make him feel more confident. I hope these suggestions help. Please feel free to contact me with may further questions.

Samantha - posted on 05/14/2010

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My son, who is 6, reads well beyond his grade level. Unfortunately, his comprehension is not where it should be. He has a hard time retelling the story that he has just read. I asked him before he read the last chapter in his book to just try to remember what he is reading and that helped. He answered his questions without having to go back and look. Is there anything I can do to help him with the comprehension aspect? His vocabulary is amazing and he often knows what difficult words mean. He has been recommended for a scholastic program for gifted children but I'm afraid he won't get in only because of the comprehension! What can I do to help??

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