Jump to content


Reading and Inference

Recommended Posts

My 6 year old son is a fantastic reader, reading at about a 4th grade level. He no longer has decoding issues and has fantastic comprehension and information retention.


He loves little work books, unlike my older children, so I use them as a reward after the rest of his work (go figure). He was working in a 2nd grade reading comprehension workbook today. Every other passage asks him to infer based on the 2 paragraphs of information. He frequently struggles with these pages. Today, the story was about a girl in a purple dress and shoes, with a purple backpack, purple pencils and 6 purple crayons. He read the multiple choice question: What can you tell about "Sally?" a) her favorite color is purple, b ) she rides her bike to school, c)... He immediately said, "OH, mom, listen to this...she's wearing purple and her back pack is purple..." (he was in effect, telling me why he knew the answer) So he knew and circled the correct answer. However, the next question asked him "how do you know this?" and he absolutely could not put into words the reason he instantly knew the answer.


It's obvious he CAN infer from his reading, but he is rarely able to answer WHY. He struggles with other "how do you know" questions too.


Is this an indication that he's working beyond his abilities/development? Is it enough for him to read between the lines without being able to explain why? Is there any way that I can help him verbalize how he knows what he knows? This reminds me of the way I feel about "showing my work" in math, which he struggles with from time to time too. Should I put away these exercises, which he enjoys until they ask him why, until he is able to verbalize this skill?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wouldn't fret it -- this is totally developmentally normal. If he likes the worksheets otherwise, just cross out the why questions perhaps? A. is used to that 'round here, I usually cross off 1/2 his math practice anyhow.


To work with this going forward, and provide extra challenge/support, you might like Galore Park's Junior English series. Just generally good with developing these skills, not for inference esp -- but the text samples used do have line numbers so one can easily refer to the line where information was found. Critical Thinking Co's Inference Jones targets the specifically but is for grades 3+, I don't know how that would suit.


-- to recap: this is perfectly normal for a young child, even a gifted one, so there's nothing to remediate or worry about. If you do want to teach this, since it's providing some level of frustration, then you could look at the things I suggested -- but I want to be clear that I don't think the child needs "help". :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've had to demonstrate to my oldest how to explain your answer. Math was great for that. If we were doing a mental math problem, we'd both figure it out correctly, then I would explain how I did it ( drawing on the white board as needed) and then I'd ask if he did it that way. Sometimes he had, but often he did it a different way ( possibly better than my way), and he would tell me how he did it differently. I think seeing/hearing my explanation helped him form his own. The more we practiced this, the easier it became, and now he can usually explain how he got his answer.


This was a process! He got much better at it around age 8.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That makes perfect sense. We often do the math process like you described. I'm surprised at how my 8 year old thinks in math.


Of course, I should have thought about modeling my thought...I think I struggle with putting my process into words sometimes too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...