Approaching new subjects

Reading Workshop

September 01, 1999|By Susan Rapp | Susan Rapp,Village Reading Center

Children in the primary grades learn to read, but the goal of literacy is to read to learn. Good readers, like good conversationalists, are able to read in a variety of subject matter and then to use the information they learn to achieve deeper understandings. Schools recognize the depth of reading and utilize reading skills across the disciplines. For example, if second-grade children were studying the rainforest, they might:

Do an experiment and record their observations in science.

Read "The Great Kapok Tree" or "At Home in the Rainforest" in language arts.

Make charts and graphs about rainfall in math class.

Draw pictures in art, or even put on a play about the rainforest in music.

Here are some strategies to use in order to help your child when reading in a variety of subject matter:

Teach her to turn headings into questions and then read to answer them. For example, for a science article titled "The Odd Spider" your child might say, "What is odd about this spider?" This helps her predict the outcome and focus on the subject.

Use background knowledge by discussing the topic before reading and then listing what your child already knows about it. Make a chart using the KWL method before and after the reading:

K -- What we already know.

W -- What we want to find out.

L -- What we learned.

When reading math problems, your child has to convert language into symbols. Develop a dictionary of terms; for example, more than and all together mean add; less than and how many are left mean subtract.

Teach her that "facts" are "right there" on the page. Ask some fact questions about the reading and have her find and underline the answers.

To help her connect with the lives of fictional or biographical characters, discuss similar experiences or feelings she has had in her own life.

Provide a variety of different reading material around the house to spark her interest.

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