L’heure de l’histoire, avec des lunettes de prof!

The time of history, with prof glasses!

The act of reading involves much more than identifying letters, sounds or words. In teaching, we learn that reading consists of four important dimensions. Here are:
  • Comprehension
  • The Interpretation
  • The reaction
  • The assessment
While much emphasis is placed on the comprehension aspect, it is important to look at the whole dimensions as they encompass quite distinct skills and strategies. In this article, I will present you each of the dimensions while giving you some tracks to work with your child in a playful way during the time of history. I offer you a small tool for reading: The question bowl! It's gone!  
  1. Comprehension
Understanding, as his name says, is to check whether the child has captured what he has read or what you have told him. Usually, when one wants to check understanding, the questions asked have only one possible answer. The child has understood or not. This component is divided into two parts. There is the Explicit understanding (tracking) and Implicit understanding (inferences). Tracting Consists of understanding text by finding elements that are verbatim. For example:

" Louis has a yellow plush. It's called Banjo."

The identification questions could be:
  • What is the name of the plush?
  • What color is the plush?
  For Inferences, We fall into the unspoken. That's all the child has to read between the lines. He must take into account the clues of the text and make connections with what he knows to understand. For example:

" Louis is 6 years old today. His mother gave him a plush. It's the same as the sun."

Questions of inference may be:
  • Why does the mother of Louis offer her a gift?
  • What color is the plush?
You may have noticed that in both cases the same question can be used (What color is the plush?). However, since the information in the text is not the same, the child will have to use different strategies to be able to respond.  
  1. The Interpretation
The interpretation of a text or a story is unique to each, since it depends on what the child understands from the text. The child must explain according to the leads and indices read. Questions of interpretation could be:
  • Why does the character act like this?
  • In your opinion, why was it sad?
  1. The reaction
When one asks a child to react, it is that one wishes to have his opinion. He is being asked to position himself. So it will be a personal response. With this type of question, the child is not only asked to give his or her opinion, but also wants to use different elements to support his words. For example, he could support his position using elements of the text or make connections with his experience. This component is very interesting to work with your child. You can question him and see the text through his child's eyes. It makes good exchanges. Questions of reaction could be:
  • Have you ever experienced a situation similar to that of the character?
  • In the place of Charlotte, how would you react? Why not?
  1. The assessment
Personally, it is a part that I love very much, because we ask the child his opinion on the work in general. It is here that the child expresses whether or not he has appreciated the book and can explain why. It can be based on different elements such as history, characters, illustrations, vocabulary used, etc. We can also ask him if he would recommend this book to someone and why he would choose that person. Exchanges around this component can be very rich.
  • Who would you recommend this book? Why not?
  • What did you like about this book?
  • Is there anything you less appreciated?

* * *

Some Tracks
  • If you are reading your child, do not hesitate to ask questions to check your comprehension and interpretation as you go. In this way, you can ensure that your child has captured the important elements of the story (interpretation). If your child is passionate about history, keep reading and ask your questions later.
  • Also, do not cut the reading for questions of reaction or appreciation. It is preferable to wait until the end of the reading period (end of chapter or book) since these types of questions ask for more reflection. The child (and you too!) would lose the thread of history.
  • If the child reads alone, you can ask questions about:
    • What he understood from his reading (making a summary, the moral of the story);
    • Its assessment of the work;
    • Its troubleshooting strategies (when it does not understand what it reads);
    • His impressions of history (reactions, positions taken from history and characters)

* * *

A tool for you Finally, I propose a small tool to get your child to be active in the process. These are small questions or tasks. You can cut them and put them in a bowl. Once the story is over, your child can get one and respond to it. A small, easy way to put it into action. Feel free to add questions or deal with your child to put them in the bowl.   I hope you have enjoyed it. And you, how do you encourage your kids to talk about their reading?

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