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Comprehension problems using SOTW with first grader


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#1 AbbyS

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 10:54 AM

I've been using SOTW with my daughter for 3 years now and I just started including my son in our history lesson now that he is in 1st grade.  We typically listen one section of the audio book together and then do review questions from the activity book.  Then I ask them to summarize the passage or tell me one important/interesting thing they learned.

 

So far my son is not able to answer more than one really basic question, remember any names, dates, or specific details from any section we have covered.  If my kids are both doing poorly on the review questions we will listen to the section again and start the questions over.  But even after listening to the story twice he will have no recollection of important details and his narration attempt will be something like "Somebody had a peg leg."

 

My daughter is gifted with an amazing memory for words so this isn't something she's ever struggled with.  How can I help my son learn to pay attention and remember anything that we're reading?



#2 HomeAgain

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 11:09 AM

First, which book are you using?  They do get more difficult and less childish as you go on, so what may be appropriate for your older child may not be right for the 1st grader.

 

Second, has your son had any narration practice before this?

 

We intentionally started with folk and fairy tales - simple, repetitive ones like The Little Red Hen to get him to be able to successfully retell events in order.  From there we moved to short, non-repetitive narrations (like Aesop's fables), and then moved into longer SOTW chapters.  If he can't retell Goldilocks or something of that sort, you may want to start there.

 

I also found it helpful to either start an activity during or right before. Sometimes it's a coloring page.  Sometimes it's listening to the description in the book (like of a shaduf) and creating/mimicking the actions at the same time.  But my son needs to be active and being able to connect his hands to the story is important.

 

In 1st he did almost no history narrations.  Now in second, he listens to or reads the chapter on his own, we do the activity, and often the mapwork, and the next day I ask the questions as a reminder before he does a simple, oral narration that I write for him.


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#3 lmrich

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 11:13 AM

Stop at the end of a paragraph and ask him to tell you one thing he remembers. Maybe start with something a tad easier so he can work on his listening skills. I am sure 'competing' with big sister could also be hard. 


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#4 SusanC

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 11:17 AM

When this issue has come up in the past, another piece of advice that is often mentioned is to break the reading into smaller bites. Listen to a few paragraphs, then ask him a question, repeat. You should be able to gradually increase the length of the selections.
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#5 Evanthe

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 05:48 PM

I've read through the SOTW series 3 times now and I was never able to pull it off with a 1st grader.  I start SOTW in 3rd grade.  Mine just couldn't do it.

 

*dodging virtual tomatoes*


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#6 nixpix5

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 07:40 PM

With my kindies last year and 1st grade daughter I would read a section and if felt like a lot, I would do my own narration and put it into different words. I found when I did that it made more sense for them.

Another thing I found that worked well is I would give them a gist; so I would do a simple explanations first about what we would be reading about and then read it. I would often follow up with kids books about the topic from the library.

#7 Rach

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Posted 06 October 2017 - 07:49 PM

I think the audiobook is more difficult to pay attention to. It doesn't lend itself to answering questions or explaining things as they come up.

Is he a young 1st grader?
What is he doing while the story is playing?
Is he able to narrate other stories that he is more interested in?

#8 sweet2ndchance

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 10:43 AM

Assuming your daughter started with SOTW 1 and you are now in SOTW 3 or 4, she has had years of practice now starting with the shorter, less complex passages in the earlier books. I'm also assuming that your son has listened to the previous SOTW books but was never asked to narrate or answer questions before now. If this is the case, it is more than likely that the passages in your current SOTW volume are just too long and complex for him.

 

I would just have him listen and follow along with SOTW but let him learn the narration and comprehension skills his older sister has developed with years of practice with something shorter and easier. It could be picture books that go along with the SOTW readings that are more on his level, or something completely separate like fairy tales and fables that just work on his listening and comprehension skills.


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#9 Zoo Keeper

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 11:33 AM

I've read through the SOTW series 3 times now and I was never able to pull it off with a 1st grader.  I start SOTW in 3rd grade.  Mine just couldn't do it.

 

*dodging virtual tomatoes*

 

 Absolutely no tomatoes being thrown from this corner...:)

 

For reasons that I have yet to figure out, I prefer CHOW in the younger years.  Depending on the child, I add in SOTW around 2nd or 3rd grade.


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#10 Hilltopmom

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 01:21 PM

My oldest loved sotw starting in first, but just listened to it over and over while playing with playmobil guys in the playroom.
We didn’t attempt answering questions or narrating for a few years. By then he almost had them memorized... history buff.
For my next
I like CHOW it was easier for her to understand when young.
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#11 xahm

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 02:56 PM

I only have young ones, but when I want them to get something out of a read aloud that is a stretch, I give a quick intro and one or two questions I want them to listen for. Like, "we're about to hear the story of a man named Columbus who did something very difficult that other people didn't think he could do. I want you to listen well and find out what he did and why it was so hard." The question helps them get the main point, but also helps them focus enough that there's a better chance of them catching other stuff as well.
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#12 Stibalfamily

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 05:17 PM

My first grader has the same problem. We just listen to each chapter multiple times.



#13 rebbyribs

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 06:18 PM

I find that my kids often have trouble remembering names the first few times they hear them, so I write them down on the whiteboard as we go through the section.  



#14 PeachyDoodle

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Posted 07 October 2017 - 06:18 PM

My 1st grader has the same issues and we are using SOTW 1, which is easier to follow than later volumes. I try to frame discussion with him as more of a natural conversation, where more often than not, I end up answering my own questions. I've found that if I put too much pressure on him he shuts down and everybody ends up frustrated. He is doing plenty of narration using FLL and WWE. With history and science at this stage, I feel like the goal is exposure, not mastery, so as long as some things are sticking eventually, I'm happy. I reinforce SOTW with supplemental readings throughout the week and hands-on projects (we do this with science too). He's retaining much more that way. He also loves the maps, so that's been a surprisingly good tool for us.

 

FWIW, my gifted dd was TERRIBLE at narrations and recall in history (well, really, across the board) for the first year at least that we did them. And this despite the fact that she started with SOTW 1 in 3rd grade, after we took her out of public school, when she was reading and writing well above grade level. It really is a skill, and one that some kids pick up more easily than others. Give him some scaffolding, and don't make him compete with his sister for answers (that NEVER works out well here). Reinforce what he is learning with reading or videos or fun projects or just talking about what you're learning outside of a formal narration context. And remember that he will study this stuff again (and probably again) before he graduates. He doesn't have to know it all now.


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#15 boscopup

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 07:13 AM

I wouldn't worry too much about the history at this point, but for listening comprehension, try short stories like Aesop's fables and such. Narration is a skill, and it sounds like he's not ready to narrate SOTW. That's fine. He's still a little guy. :)
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#16 regentrude

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 12:38 PM

So far my son is not able to answer more than one really basic question, remember any names, dates, or specific details from any section we have covered. 

 

Please be aware that some learners, even adults, find it extremely difficult to remember names and dates they only heard but never saw in writing. If you want the kids to remember facts, it would be much more effective if they could also read and write them and not just rely on the auditory channel.

Many people have trouble remembering names after an oral introduction, but do much better with name tags. I have a phenomenal memory for names  - but only once I see them in writing.

 

I would focus oral comprehension exercises on stories and narratives, not recall of detailed facts. Dates are particularly difficult for a child with no reference frame. At this age, he should be able to retell a story of something that happened - use fairy tales, myths, fables. 


Edited by regentrude, 09 October 2017 - 12:40 PM.

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#17 goldenecho

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 02:24 PM

Personally I don't worry about dates at all at this age (but I do ask questions about order...what happened first, last).   And I don't worry a ton about names.   While I want him to have a general understanding about the different civilizations in the ancient world, for instance, I'm not concerned if he remembers Shamshi-Adad, Hatshepsut, Hamurabi or other ancient rulers by name.   Some of those names are really hard, even for grown ups.

 

 

Here is what I did with my 1st grader (though because we repeated KG at home he was actually a year older...even then it was hard...but my kiddo was a struggling learner who struggled with memory in all subjects, and had a very short attention span, which thankfully has grown considerably. )  He still didn't remember a lot but he remembered more with some tweaks  (we did a lot of tweaks at first, gradually reducing them as his attention span grew).  We read the passages, in stead of listening to them....and some of this won't work as well listening (but might).

 

 

1.  I would prepare pictures to look at during the reading related to the reading (you can find these on the internet, use the coloring pages sometimes, or get library books from the era).  If I could find pictures/artifacts representing the people in the story, I would stop the reading and point them out when I got to that point (At first I would say "Here's what he looked like" but later I would often just point).  In library books I would look for pictures that might illustrate parts of the story.   We would stop the reading sometimes to look at the pictures (like for the chapers on nomads I found an illustration of a nomadic tribe, and where they talked about people hunting I would stop and ask, "Do you see hunters in this picture?  What are they hunting?"  The more visuals I could pull in the more he would remember.  If I could pull in 3D or tactile props, I would (like for the chapter on silk worms, you might have him touch a piece of silk).   This is something you could do while listening too, to an extent.

 

2.  Any time they would ask a question in the text, we would stop right there and  answer it.   The author actually asks a lot of questions right to the reader, and so I took advantage of these.   I added some of my own questions too. 

 

3.  Any time a place on the map was mentioned, we would look it up on the map. 

 

4.   I would also break the text up into smaller bits.   We did this for quite a while.   We would usually read one half of a sub-chapter a day, in stead of one sub-chapter, as most had good places to split these.  Might be harder to do with your oldest too, as it does slow the pace a lot, so what you could do in stead is read a part of it, do the review questions and whatever activities you have related to just that part, and then continue to the next. 

 

5.  Any time there is a fable, I will see if I can find it in a picture book at the library.  I do like how Bauer writes, but the pictures help so much.  Sometimes I will read it from the picture book, and sometimes I will read it from SOTW and just point to the pictures in the book, if they match up well enough (which often they do).

 

6.  If I can find a youtube video on the subject, we will often follow up the story with that, or with a storybook if I can find one...which helps a lot with names.  After the SOTW and supplement he's usually got a lot more details down.


Edited by goldenecho, 09 October 2017 - 02:28 PM.

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#18 Bluegoat

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 03:57 PM

You should usually introduce names and dates before, maybe on a whiteboard, even for older kids who are going to narrate. 

 

But grade 1 is young, especially for a boy.  I might just let him to listen and practice narrating with something like Aesop.  FWIW I like CHOW better too for little ones.


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#19 Milknhoney

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Posted 09 October 2017 - 04:07 PM

With my first child, we started SOTW 1 in grade 1. It was definitely a struggle. I ended up reading one paragraph, asking a comprehension question, read the next paragraph, ask a question, etc. Then extracting a full narration at the end was an extraordinarily lengthy and arduous task. 

 

So I decided to wait until grade 2 to start SOTW 1 with my next kid. In 1st, we read through picture books chronologically through US history and she gave me narrations on those. Between that and WWE, she was much better prepared to face SOTW when we started it in grade 2. (She also seems to be more naturally interested in history, which also helps). 

 

I also agree with a previous poster that it is better for them to be able to read along in the book rather than just listening. Both of mine (and me too) prefer reading over listening. I think that both reading and listening together - getting the information in through two senses rather than one - is the best way to help remember. Also, repetition. Dd has to listen through the whole chapter on audio on Monday (and she reads along). Then on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, she re-reads the chapter section we'll be covering for the day. Then she's ready to answer the questions. 



#20 Homeschool Mom in AZ

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 03:15 AM

I'm assuming you're using SOTW1, which is written to first graders.  The books get more complex because SOTW2 is written to 2nd graders, SOTW3 is written to 3rd graders, and SOTW4 is written to 4th graders. There's a significant developmental difference between the typical 1st grader and the typical 4th grader, and the books reflect that.

Experiment with different things and see what works.

Read aloud the first question.  Read aloud from the beginning through the end of the section in the chapter that covers the first question.  Read aloud the question again for your child to answer. Read the second question.  Start reading where you left off and continue through the section that covers the second question.  Ask the second question again for your child to answer.  And so on.

Read the questions aloud first, then read the chapter, then ask the questions again. Some kids really struggle with differentiating between main ideas and details.  They get lost on all the details and don't know what to listen for, so they try to focus on everything and get overwhelmed.

Read one paragraph or short section, ask a question or tell the child to tell you what they remember from the paragraph or short section. Repeat with each paragraph or short section.

If your child is reading, have them follow along with the book while you read aloud or a recording plays.
 



#21 Bluegoat

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 09:21 AM

The other thing I'd say is - your on might just not be quite ready.  Some kids are slower than others in their development, and it's pretty common that a boy at 7 will be less competent in LA than a girl at the same age.

 

You could just wait a year and read stories until then.



#22 AbbyS

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 02:21 PM

Thank you all for these ideas!  We're going to try all of this and see how it goes.  I hadn't realized that there was such a difference between the 1st book and the 3rd book (that we're doing now) and he hasn't had much practice doing narration in other areas yet. I must have started First Language Lessons a year earlier with my daughter so she'd been doing narration for a year before we started history.  This has been so helpful!



#23 Milknhoney

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 05:34 PM

Volume 3 is where American History begins. There are TONS of books out there on US history topics written for early grade levels. What I would do in your place is have my younger child listen in on the chapter with big sister and maybe do the corresponding coloring page. Then go back and read a picture book on the same topic with the youngest, and then get a narration from the child on THAT book. I would skip the world history topics that there probably aren't any first grade picture books on. Or, hit a related topic - "Russia" instead of "Peter the Great", for example. 

 

The thing about SOTW is that you can still use it again when he is ready to cycle through again. You can use the printed comprehension questions for him to fill in by hand, read more advanced corresponding literature, and add the tests. So don't feel like he won't learn it if you don't cover it now.