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improving reading comprehension

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Trying to decide where to begin...yesterday my dd 13 and I had a rather huge blowup about school, study habits, and the works, with the idea of going back to ps discussed as well. She attended PS until middle of 3rd grade and has no desire to go back, and I'd rather her be homeschooled though highschool as well. So, we ended discussing what we can do to help improving her study habits, etc. The topic of reading came up. I guess she's having a hard time understanding what she reads. I know she CAN comprehend some of it, but it seems that anything remotely hard she shuts down. Here's the kicker though...I was trying to show her that she can understand some of what she reads, and mentioned Twilight as an example. (Not that Twilight is by ANY means difficult or quality lit) She said she found an audio version online and once she listened to it the book made much more sense. I mean...come, Twilight??? If she needs to listen to Twilight to understand it, then how on earth is she going to even begin doing the Great Books in highschool???


She's in 8th this year, but earlier this year we agreed that she'd take one extra year before beginning highschool, so I figure I have one extra year to prepare her to read the Great Books. What can I do? I have a sister who completely cannot remember one thing she reads from books, but is such an auditory learner she hears something once and she practically has it memorized. I learn mainly by reading, but if I were to stop and get directions, I'd forget them by the time I made it back to the car. I guess I'm saying I understand completely about visual vs. auditory learners and that they can range to the extreme. I can always get audio versions of books and have her listen to them, but I can't go with her to take the SAT's and read the questions out loud.


One last thing...she is rather passive agressive, and anything that she has to put forth the slightest effort on she tends to make harder. (Not just with school work, but everything, including making her bed). I don't know if she's really having trouble or if she's not putting forth the effort she needs to. I just know she loves the Twilight series and has read the books more than once. It's pleasure reading for her, not a school assignment, so for her to have to listen to the audio book really throws me.


Any help or sage advice from the hive mind would be greatly appreciated!

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Well, all I can say is this. My step-dd has real problems with reading comprehension. She thoroughly enjoyed the Twilight books, but she made the comment to me that they were confusing. So, I do think your daughter could enjoy the books but still be having trouble following parts of them.


As far as working to improve reading comprehension, there are a number of programs you can try. Visualizing and Verbalizing by Lindamood Bell is the most intensive one. I like Reading Comprehension on Varied Subject Matter by http://www.epsbooks.com and I have heard others recommend Reading Detective by the Critical Thinking Company.


If your daughter has a real ld in this area, and you can document, you might be able to get the SAT questions read out loud to her. My step-dd had the questions read out loud to her when she took the college entrance exams for our local community college. She didn't do that for the SATs, but I'm not sure that she couldn't have if my husband had followed up on it.



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My older ds had NO reading comprehension problems. He scored very high reading comp. on IOWA, HSPT and SAT's. BUT he remembers and understands better when he listens to the book rather than reads it. I get him as many of his high school literature on audio as I can. Many of his peers DON'T read the books at ALL. They read SparkNotes and do the questions required and that's it!


Sometimes the problem is having the dc read TOO much. Letting them read shorter amounts at a time so they can read SLOWER can help. Taking short notes in the margin of the book or in a notebook helps with retention. I recommend Roman Reading.


If you read aloud with your dc (yes, even in 8th gr) it forces a slower read of the book. Slower reading can greatly improve comprehension as well as taking notes and discussing (narrating) what was just read.



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Unless she's enthusiastic about the material, this may be an issue more about accountability and engagement then about comprehension. Are you reading the same material and engaging her with it? If you're leaving her to read on her own, then this may not be about comprehension.


1. Read the same material - read ahead a chapter or two and "prep" her. Give her some idea of what's coming ahead and provide some background info before she reads the chapter.


2. Discuss, discuss, discuss - have her narrate each chapter then discuss. Use a reading guide if YOU need it.


3. Review - periodically, go over the complete plot line reminding your dd what's happened.


4. On any given day if she's not able to adequately narrate a chapter, have her read the same material the next day. Don't move on until she's getting it.


5. Don't read the material aloud for her. While she may understand it better when you do this, you're really providing her with a crutch. Better to improve her skills now. If she intends to go to college she'll need to master reading to herself and understanding.

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I think that it is likely that you are at a one of those forks in the road that a lot is riding on. Imo, the fork is between do-it-yourself and hope you hit the mark vs. get testing and find out what the actual issue is.


At her age, I would get her tested to see what you are really dealing with. High school gets considerably harder, as you are anticipating. If there are specific learning difficulties there, you want to know about them. If there is an LD, teens feel so much better having a label for it, knowing that there is a reason that it is harder for them than their friends, etc. Knowing what it is saves teens from self-labeling like "stupid" or from avoiding the impact of the self-label by claiming lack of interest in the work. Additionally, that testing can result in accomodations on the SAT, in college, etc.


The most common cause of difficulties with reading comprehension is working memory. That can be improved, and there are also work-around strategies that can be used. But if it's not working memory--if it's decoding, or vocabulary, or reading fluency issues, etc. then what you choose to work with is critical. The trouble is, right now, you don't really know what you are dealing with. You could spend the next year going down the wrong trail altogether and be at the same place you are now except that you will both be more frustrated and she will likely feel worse about herself. In other words, "reading comprehension" isn't a simple knowledge base that you work to improve. It is really important that you find out what is causing the issue and remediate that.

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I would agree with everything that was mentioned. My younger son had difficulties with reading for a very long time. He just turned 14 and he is just learning to comprehend what he reads. For my older son it came natural to him; while, my younger son came to the country when he was six so he had to learn English at a later age. I would try to identify the reading level for the Twilight books and find books that are a grade level below. If she likes audio, then find the audio cd's that correspond with these books. She can listen to the CD and follow with her eyes at the same time. It might help her to focus. Also, I found the more vocabulary my younger son is expose to, the more he is comprehending. Latin helped him alot this year by learning the deriviatives. Anyway, I understand what you are going through. :001_smile:

Edited by Harrison_B
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