This month on Literacy Toolbox, I will share resources to help parents explicitly teach their child comprehension strategies when reading. Good readers use these strategies without even thinking about it. It is our job as parents and educators to teach our children how to use these strategies so that they become second nature to them as they read independently.
Building Background Knowledge
Building background knowledge is the act of providing information for your child about a specific topic. Children are building their background knowledge every day with their day-to-day activities in the world around them. Providing children with diverse activities, day trips, or by reading aloud specific books also helps build their background knowledge. It’s important to build background knowledge for children because they haven’t had the opportunity to experience what adults have. When we read, we draw on our background knowledge and experiences to help us make connections that help us understand what we are reading. The more background knowledge we have, the easier it will be for us to comprehend what we read.
As this month is the anniversary of the birth of our nation, I recommend reading America : A Patriotic Primer to help build your child’s knowledge of the principles on which our country was founded. Written for ages 4-8, this book provides brief information related to renowned individuals (Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King, Jr.), milestones in the country’s history (The Constitution, The Declaration of Independence) and more generic terms (heroes, oath, patriotism).
Read aloud this book to your child and answer any questions he may have related to the content. Discuss the terms and ideas conveyed throughout the book. Provide real-life examples in language your child can understand to explain some of the more complex ideas. Just talking with your child helps build background knowledge of topics. Building background knowledge at a young age will help your child as he becomes an independent reader and needs to draw on that knowledge to understand text he reads.
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