You bought baskets of books. You read aloud to your child before bedtime each night. You take your child to the library to check out new books. You have fostered a love of reading in your children but want to do more.
One reading skill that many children have difficulty with is making predictions about the story. During your read aloud with your child, you will stop and say "What do you think will happen next?" or "What do you think the character will do about his problem?" You know they right questions to ask but what do you do if your child has difficulty generating a logical response? Use these three simple strategies for developing your child's problem solving skills, which in turn strengthens his ability to make predictions in stories.
Activate schemaGuide your child to think about information she already has. The story may be about bugs and your child found a ladybug in the yard last week. She may call upon this information as a reference while reading the story. When you come upon the character's dilemma, you may need to be explicit and say, "Let's think. We already know that the character is afraid of bugs" as a guide for her to recall this information she has stored. It is important for her to be able to access information she already knows.
Verbal rehearsal Walk your child through the process of problem solving and coming to a reasonable conclusion. Model problem solving during the story and in real life. Be clear about the steps you take to come to a conclusion. Say "Oh no! I spilled some milk on the floor and I don't have any paper towels to clean it up. I need something that can clean like a paper towel. Maybe I can use a napkin." Walk through the steps and include your child in the process. "Do you think a napkin will help me clean up this milk?" guides your child to think about the properties of the napkin and if it is a reasonable substitution for a paper towel. Be sure to emphasize why the solution is feasible- "Well, I use a napkin to wipe my mouth. Sometimes I have milk on my mouth. The napkin can clean milk that is on my mouth or on the floor."
Offer choices If she is really stuck, you made need to offer specific choices. "Do you think the character will try and clean up the mess or say that it's her brother's fault." Giving two choices gives your child a platform to work from. Again, using information she already knows will help guide her in this process.
Reading involves a number of skills and making predictions is one that many children find challenging. Through everyday experiences and continued practice through reading, your child will learn the process of making a prediction and generating a reasonable response.
Jennifer Cerbasi teaches at a public school for children on the autism spectrum in New Jersey. As a coordinator of Applied Behavioral Analysis programs in the home, she works with parents to create and implement behavioral plans for their children in an environment that fosters both academic and social growth. In addition to her work both in the classroom and at home, she is also a member of the National Association of Special Education Teachers and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.