Why is teaching comprehension skills to children so important?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines comprehension as simply ‘the ability to understand something’. More specifically, the term ‘reading comprehension’ can be understood as the process of simultaneously extracting and constructing meaning through interaction and involvement with written language. It is a vital skill, which should form the basis of every child’s linguistic development. Without comprehension, the action of reading is reduced to a mere word calling exercise. It is therefore of paramount importance that children are taught the skills and given the tools that will allow them to develop this ability.

For thousands of years before the skills needed for writing and reading literature had developed, human beings still needed to comprehend language. People learnt to listen incredibly carefully in order to comprehend, in their minds, what was said and heard. Now, we have to read with our eyes instead of just listening, but the skill of comprehension is essentially the same. However, in our modern technological society, visual comprehension has become even more important because understanding and correctly comprehending text is something we face on a daily basis.

The ability to listen and comprehend develops naturally in humans, with minimal outside intervention. However, the ability to read and comprehend is a more challenging skill to acquire and requires sustained instruction and practice. Unfortunately, many instructional texts fail to equip children with the building blocks needed to comprehend a piece of text.

The AE Publications’ Comprehension workbook takes your child through a step-by-step method of approaching both prose and poetry. By the time they have completed Workbook 1 they will have learnt there are ten things they should look for in any piece of prose, and 20 things they should look for in any piece of poetry. Workbook 2 (published later this year) will give children further practice passages to reinforce these skills in a structured way.

We recommend that children start to use the AE Publications’ range of Verbal Activity workbooks and testbooks from the age of 7. These can be supplemented with our range of age appropriate Spelling and Vocabulary workbooks. Both these series develop key skills that improve comprehension. Working with your child from a young age will ease the introduction of our Comprehension series in years 5 and 6. This approach will ensure your child is fully prepared for any 11+ test that assesses English; whether it be CEM, GL Assessment or the Northern Ireland Transfer Test.

To view the AE Publications’ range of Comprehension, Verbal Activity and Spelling and Vocabulary workbooks and testbooks, please visit our bookshop at http://www.aepublications.co.uk/bookshop.

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