It is important for children to develop cause and effect and reasoning skills. One way to help your child to develop these skills is to ask ‘Why?’ and ‘How do you know?’ or ‘How can you tell?’ questions when reading picture books together. Encourage your children to provide relevant and specific answers to these types of questions.
When asking ‘Why?’ questions, support your child to use the joining word’ because’.
When asking ‘How can you tell?” questions, encourage your child to ‘look for clues’ in the pictures.
- Ask “Why is the dog happy?” and model the answer “The dog is happy because the girl is feeding him”.
- Ask “How can you tell that the dog is happy?” (We can tell the dog is happy because we can see he is wagging his tail).
Encouraging children to search for visual clues when they predict, inference and reason assists in the development of comprehension skills.
At Fremantle LDC we talk to the students about being a good detective like Mr Goodguess. Using a magnifying glass is a fun way of identifying important clues.
Developing prediction skills using story books
- Encourage the children to use language like: “my guess is…”, “I think that…”, “I predict that….”
- Before reading a story, encourage children to guess ‘who’ might be in the story or ‘where’ the story might be set. Talk about what might give you some good clues (for example the pictures on the front cover of the words in the title)
- It is important to check if the prediction or guess is correct. Sometimes what we expect might happen doesn’t! Tell your child that it doesn’t matter if their guess or prediction was wrong, as long as they made a good prediction based on clues.
- You can model language like “I first thought the story was about… but now that I have read the story I know it is about…”
- You can also ask your child to think about “what might happen next?” based on previous clues as you turn the pages in story books.
- Ask your child to guess how the characters are feeling. Use the character’s facial expressions and body language as clues.
Some children find it difficult to reason, particularly when they are required to ignore the ‘red herring’ and focus on the main idea.
For example, “Someone has a cold. What tells us this?” (the person is sneezing and there is medicine on the table, not that it is cold outside).
The Fremantle LDC Speech Pathology Team