How Grandparents Can Help Grandchildren Improve Comprehension


Joan (Grandmother) asks:

What are some tips I can use to help my grandchildren understand more about the stories I read to them?

Dr. Marion Blank (Reading Kingdom founder) answers:

Most children love to hear stories. If they are read to on a regular (nightly) basis, there is often little that the adult need be concerned about with regard to helping them understand what they are hearing. As with any well-rehearsed activity, repetition leads to improved abilities. However, repetition in the realm of stories is something that may be in jeopardy. The high tech era we are in is one of rapid change with regard to many aspects of language. For example, children’s vocabularies seem to be declining as they spend on average up to eight hours a day and more with devices. The reading of stories appears to be one more casualty of this transformation.

In many homes, storytelling rarely takes place. So the first thing to help children would be to turn this around and ensure that the reading of stories takes place several evenings a week. If this has not been happening, it would be good to start the process.  Further, there are many things you can do to make the children feel more comfortable—in case they have a period of adjustment to the new routine. For example, before reading the story, a brief overview of the theme can be very helpful. It is also invaluable to reduce the questions asked about the story (e.g., NOT to ask “who is that?”what is he doing?” “why did he do that?” etc.) Questions are often perceived, and rightly so, as tests. Tests do not make anyone feel comfortable or relaxed.

If you want the children to talk about and think about what they are hearing, it is better to offer comments (e.g., “that little animal was so brave…”). Then wait and give the children the opportunity to comment in return. It may take the children a bit of time to engage in the commenting process—but that is fine. Within a few days, sensing that the exchange is open and interesting, they will begin to offer their views. The end result is a conversation and an experience that is marked both by fun and enhanced comprehension.

Reading Kingdom is designed as a learning game to keep children’s attention.  Our website is also full of educational resources like great apps for kids, learning activities, the best books for kids and more.  Sign up for a free 30 day trial of our learning program and begin to foster a love for literacy in your children today!