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Reading Comprehension and Software

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: Do you know of any good computer programs that would help my third grader with comprehension? She reads pretty well, but she has a problem understanding what she's read. I've discussed it with the school. She isn't classified and doesn't receive resource room because she tests well. She does like the computer though, and I know she will work on a program if I could find one. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

A: To truly be considered a reader, your daughter must comprehend what she reads. You are absolutely correct in wanting to improve her comprehension skills before she enters fourth grade, where she will be expected to understand far more sophisticated material. Unfortunately, no one computer program is going to be the magical solution that significantly improves her comprehension. Nevertheless, computer comprehension programs will motivate your daughter to read more and can help improve her ability to recall what she has read.

Just go online and type "computers reading comprehension reviews" into a search engine to find listings for many sites that give extensive reviews of computer programs. A helpful site is http://computers.sympatico.ca/viewz/reviews . Also, you can visit learning stores and investigate different reading comprehension programs. Try to find programs that offer word reading at the click of a mouse so your daughter can hear any words, phrases, sentences, or paragraphs that she cannot easily read. In addition, it will be helpful to use a program that will define any word that she doesn't know.

Because most computer comprehension programs simply have multiple-choice questions to test basic recall, your daughter is going to need more help this summer to improve her comprehension skills. For children to truly understand what they have read, they need to have more advanced comprehension skills that include making inferences, relating details to major ideas, and knowing the sequence of events.

One of the simplest ways to improve your daughter's reading comprehension is simply to have her retell what she has read to you. Begin with very short passages. If she hesitates, ask questions like: What happened next? Where did the story take place? Who else is in the story? Besides working with your daughter, you may also want to have a tutor help her.

More on: Expert Advice

Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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