When reading a book, magazine, or newspaper, information and knowledge is conveyed from the writer to the reader in a linear fashion. This means the knowledge comes to us one word and one concept at a time in chronological order. As we take in the information we read, our minds process images in complex thinking patterns. Try to remember the last book you read and how the author described a specific place or setting. What did you see in your mind? What pictures did you create? As we process the writer’s individual words, our mind envisions what is described and stores that knowledge for us to retrieve it when we need it. Through visualization, we build the foundational blocks for comprehension and critical thinking.
Many students who struggle with comprehension grasp only parts of what they read, recalling a few details, names, and dates, but fail to process the entire whole. Students who can read letters and words, which are the parts, or “pieces,” of the cognitive “puzzle,” may not perceive the whole, or the entire “puzzle.” In the reading “puzzle,” students must not only read letters and words, but also use reasoning, critical thinking, interpretation, and comprehension to become a holistic reader. Essentially, reading is ineffective if a student does not remember what they just read.
If your child struggles with comprehension or critical thinking, it could be the reason why they have difficulty remembering the main idea of stories, taking standardized tests, completing simple tasks, and recalling important details in school and at home.
- Comprehension & Critical Thinking Challenges
Children who struggle with comprehension may experience:
- Weak comprehension and process of written and oral language
- Weakness in higher order thinking skills
- Weak visual and auditory memory
- Comprehension Solutions
When students improve their auditory and visual systems you may see the following improvements in a child’s comprehension skills:
- Recognize main ideas (and relate details back to the main idea)
- Recall what they read (retelling it in their own words)
- Sequence and follow directions
- Identify and recall details
- Summarize and identify plot and story line
- Critical Thinking Solutions
What makes a child successful in today’s world is not only how they process and perceive information, but how they apply it. Critical thinking plays a larger role in career development due to the pressures of employers who want creative, out-of-the box thinkers that help improve business. As students begin to grasp reading and comprehension, their critical thinking skills may also improve. Encouraging more critical thinking exercises can help kids better understand real life situations.
Critical thinking techniques can help with the following:
- Analyzing predictions and conclusions
- Applying cause and effect
- Making connections and associations
- Classifying into categories (similarities and differences)
- Compare and contrast
- Making generalizations
- Apply understanding to a new situation