Reading comprehension is about reading for meaning. When children are interested in the topic or story that they are reading, they are more likely to engage with the text more deeply.
We know that children that are first learning to read need to focus on decoding in order to “crack the code”.
But that is not to say that they are not learning to read for meaning!
It just means that phonemic awareness and phonics skills are vital in order to be able to learn to read.
Children bring with them varying levels of oral language, background knowledge, and vocabulary when they enter school. These early skills support reading development. The more vocabulary and background knowledge students acquire, the more they have to works with as they learn to read.
As students begin to make the connection between sounds and letters through instruction and books, they also begin to understand that print conveys meaning. They begin to understand that they can also contribute their ideas in the form of writing.
Handwriting development and practice (or penmanship) is a very important part of learning to write. We can even determine a child’s reading skills through looking at writing samples. We want to be sure that students have mastered printing the alphabet through lots and lots of practice. This can free up cognitive space to be able to express ideas and creativity in their writing. If students are struggling to remember how to write a letter, that puts a demand on cognitive load. (VanCleave, William Handwriting in a Modern World)
Putting it all Together
If the ultimate goal is reading comprehension, we must include reading practice and handwriting for a comprehensive approach to literacy. Engagement in reading is key. That is why I created a reading comprehension set that includes reading about all kinds of animals! Kids love animals! Putting together animals that represent each month of the year also builds background knowledge and vocabulary. Why not also practice handwriting by writing sentences that are content rich?
Animal of the Week: Reading Comprehension and Handwriting
Each month, students will learn about 4 animals. There are reading comprehension passages and comprehension questions. This set includes handwriting practice as well as reading practice. There are also opportunities to label diagrams of each animal and their unique features. These sets can be used as stand alone practice sets or as a complement to another seasonal or animal unit that you are currently teaching.