24 Feb 2013

Comprehension Skills

Good comprehension skills are essential for SATs age 11 and 11+. Here are two fun games to boost two of the key skills:

Skimming and scanning is being able to find a word on a page, fast

You've heard of Where's Wally (or Waldo, if you're American). You can play this with words. Take a page of any book - magazine or article - and pick any word. How quickly can your child find it?
Some kids love racing the clock. Some like to compete. You know your child best.
Play for five minutes at a time. Little and often is best.
You can play this with any child who can read fluently, and with more than one child at the same time, although you may need to use different books.

As a tutor, I teach tutees to highlight the key words in the exam question. Then they skim and scan the text to look for these words, or words that mean the same thing.

As your child get better at 'Where's Wally?' you can increase the difficulty by asking them to find a word or words that aren't exactly the same, but which suggest an idea. For example, in a text describing a forest, you could ask them to pick as many words as they can that make the forest seem scary, or calm, or huge, if that's how it's described.

Memory skills

When your child reads, how much do they remember? This is so important in an exam. Practice makes perfect.
You might have played the 'tray game' where you put ten, twenty or thirty different objects on a tray, then - eyes closed - try to remember as much as you can. You can play this - and it will help.
You can also play it with a page of a book. Ask your child to read a page from a novel, magazine or web page. Then cover it up and get them to list as many details as they can remember.
Again, you can play this with more than one child. They can 'test' each other.