Q:

I am the mother of a fourth-grader who reads very well but has a problem with comprehension. He only remembers what he reads for a few minutes after he reads it. I have spoken with his teacher, and she says that she doesn't see a problem, as he probably doesn't remember because he isn't reading something that interests him. What do you think? - Possible Problem

A:

Problems are looming on the horizon unless your son learns to remember what he has read. Before fourth grade, most reading at school usually involves stories that catch children's attention. In fourth grade, however, the focus moves to reading more social studies and science textbooks and remembering these materials for assignments and tests. And from now on, the ability to read and remember content-area materials will become more important each year.

You can't bank on your son being immediately interested in every topic that he reads about in school. He is going to need to learn to engage himself more with the material. It won't do any good to just tell him to think about what he is reading. He needs to learn some new reading techniques. Fortunately, you should be able to help him do this.

Begin by working with your son on a reading assignment for social studies or science. Have him look at all the headings, pictures and illustrations on the pages before he starts to read so he can acquaint himself with the material. If the book has questions or a summary at the front of chapters, he should read these sections to get an early picture of the important points.

Next, have your son read one or more paragraphs and then tell you the who, what, when and where of what he has read. Complete the assignment in this way. As your son begins to show that he knows how to interact with what he is reading, lessen the times you work with him until he is working independently. You might also want to ask your son's teacher to explain the SQ3R method of reading, as it helps many students.

For your son to remember what he has read for longer periods of time, he is also going to have to get in the habit of reviewing. If he writes answers to chapter questions or questions that he has made up after reading, reviewing will be much simpler.