Enhancing Comprehension: Reading Skills in Middle School
Middle school is the time your child develops the sophisticated reading skills that allow him to analyze literature and master the content of the entire curriculum — social studies, science, math, health, and foreign languages. Reading becomes a powerful tool to find information, make sense of complex material, and find enjoyment in literature and popular media. Middle-school instruction therefore focuses on refining and strengthening existing skills. Key components are:
Strategic reading: Your child needs to learn how and when to skim and when to study thoroughly. She doesn't have to read an entire book about space exploration if she only wants to find the date of the first lunar landing.
- Reading with a purpose, knowing when it's important to understand every detail and when she can read quickly for pure enjoyment
- Reading selectively, scanning chapter headings and introductory sentences to find necessary information
- Skimming a chapter in a textbook to form an overall impression
Comprehension: Grappling with the deeper meaning of a text will strengthen understanding. Good readers are continually questioning themselves.
- Getting below the surface of facts on the page and evaluating critically
- Drawing conclusions about why certain things happened
- Connecting new information to other knowledge and personal experience
Vocabulary: One of the key differences between a good reader and a poor reader is vocabulary. Effective vocabulary study involves more than memorizing definitions.
- Using new words correctly in writing
- Using knowledge of prefixes, suffixes, and base words to expand vocabulary
- Mastering the vocabulary of different content areas
Speed: Poor readers are usually slow even after they become accurate. To build speed, your child needs to read a lot of text at a level that is easy for him to comprehend.
- Reading for pleasure
- Getting hooked on books by the same author
- Reading fast enough to do homework in a reasonable amount of time
Writing skills: Written responses to reading can greatly enhance comprehension. Writing improves when your child practices answering specific questions and researching new topics.
- Linking sentences into organized paragraphs
- Writing clear, coherent, and focused essays including formal introductions, supporting evidence, and conclusions