DEAR TEACHER: My fourth-grader is struggling to understand her textbooks as well as fiction. She has always had this problem, even after tutoring in first and second grades, but it is worse now even though she tries so hard.
I don't know why she never seems to understand what she is reading. How can I help my daughter improve her reading comprehension? - Puzzled
Answer: Our concern is: Does your daughter have the mechanics of reading down pat? Listen to her read and see how well she reads. If she quickly recognizes almost all the words and reads at a satisfactory rate, you should concentrate on improving her comprehension.
Good readers understand what they have read. Reading comprehension, not phonics, is the No. 1 reading skill you want your children to have. If they do not understand what they have read, they are not good readers. This makes sense, doesn't it?
In order for children, as well as adults, to truly understand what they read, they must become active readers. As your daughter reads, she must always be thinking. It is almost like having a conversation with the author. Here are some hints that you can use to improve her reading comprehension:
Question: My son is bound and determined to attend the college his dad did. He has excellent grades and SAT scores and wants to apply for early decision. Will this affect the amount of financial aid he gets? - Need Financial Aid
Answer: Early-decision applicants apply to one college and commit to enrolling if accepted. Unfortunately, they are not likely to know how much financial aid they will receive at the time they are accepted. We suggest that you visit the college financial aid office now with last year's federal tax return to get an early estimate of how much your family is likely to need to contribute. If this amount is acceptable to you, let your son apply for early decision.
One of the advantages of applying under an early-decision plan is that colleges typically admit a higher percentage of these students than those applying under their regular admission programs. Plus, the students do not face the anxiety of wondering where they will be attending college next fall.
Send questions to Dear Teacher, in care of Ohio Valley Parent, Box 395, Carmel, IN 46082-0395; or e-mail: