My husband is a huge football fan. As soon as August begins, those fantasy football magazines start popping up around the house. One day, I decided to delve into one and learn a little about football. I could easily read all the words. I could not easily understand what I read. The reason was simple–I had very little background knowledge. Lacking any genuine interest, I had rarely watched and never really learned to understand much about football. Consequently, even though I could decode all the words, I could not comprehend what I read. I share this as an example of the importance of background knowledge. Researchers agree that background knowledge is essential for reading comprehension. It certainly makes sense that the more you know about a topic, the easier it is to understand a text dealing with that topic.
As a parent, you are in a strong position to build your child’s background knowledge. Making a conscious effort to build background knowledge is like putting money in the bank. Your youngster will be able to make a “withdrawal” when trying to make sense of text. Try these suggestions and start making deposits in your child’s bank of knowledge that will translate to his improved ability to comprehend text:
- Share your interests, hobbies, experiences with your child. Talking to your child is one of the best ways to build his knowledge of the world around him.
- Visit new places. You don’t need to take a vacation to take your child somewhere he’s never been. Communities are filled with museums, parks, and events that offer new information and experience for your child to enjoy. Seek them out.
- Encourage wide reading and visit the library often. Since there is no charge, youngsters are free to take home a variety of book. Easy, informational books are a great way for your child to become acquainted with many topics.
- Use games to make learning fun. Play games that encourage kids to categorize, compare and contrast, answer tricky questions, make analogies and learn about famous people, places and events.
- Use multimedia. Although personal experience is ideal, technology today offers an accessible and enjoyable way to learn. Encourage your child’s curiosity and learn together by exploring the many ways technology can advance learning.