“Read the story and answer the questions” may sound simple, but for most children, quickly building an understanding of an often classic (AKA difficult to read) passage can be a daunting prospect.
As with most things in life, the heart of the solution is practice, practice, practice. However, there are a few tips and tricks that can lighten the burden along the way.
1. Questions or passage first?
The decision of whether to read the passage first, or read the questions first has no clear answer as there are opinions on both sides of the fence. Reading the questions before helps relevant content stand out, whereas reading the passage first encourages a more patient consideration of the material and can help children inclined to rushing, to slow down a notch. Whichever way you go, make sure that you build a clear habit of reading the passage twice before answering a single question.
For what it’s worth, we always found passage-questions-passage was a good balance of everything.
It can be tempting for your little soldier to make assumptions about certain answers, possibly falling for pitfalls and misdirection in the questions. Make a steadfast rule that every comprehension answer has the supporting text highlighted in the passage. This simple rule of taking an extra moment to identify and ring-fence the source of the answer is a fantastic habit to form, builds confidence and helps prevent rushed and erroneous answers.
3. Word problems
Papers will often ask an explanation for the meaning of a word or phrase, often when the vocabulary is classical or otherwise extraordinary. The is understandably intimidating, but it can be solved. Most of the time when a word or phrase is clearly outside of the expected vocabulary, the answer to its meaning can be found in the surrounding text. Practice searching the sentences around the phrase for hints and context around the content, activity or emotions in the passage at that point.
Above all else, work carefully and use any spare time to check answers again and again and again!