Friday, November 2, 2012

Canadian Down Syndrome Awareness Week - Reading Comprehension

I have always heard that for kids with DS, comprehension lags behind general reading ability. I have pondered this a lot, & keep coming back to the thought that I think this is true with many kids..........& to be honest, I have to admit that when reading on certain listserves that get very technical about DS, often my own reading level is beyond that of my comprehension! lol

 K's level of understanding when reading is below her reading ability, however, her comprehension is still at a mid 2nd grade level, & her vocabulary has tested between a mid 3rd grade to just below a grade 4 level. Yes, it is behind, but on the other hand, it is still way beyond where it should be for her age. I would not have expected my other kids at 5years of age to completely understand grade 4 material & not only that, because I had never heard of early reading, none of them could read before age 5. I am confident that K's comprehension will continue to progress so that she stays on track or ahead of her grade.

One thing that I really think has helped K with general comprehension, is that we talk about & explain everything. We did this even when she was a baby.  We always tried to assume that she understood & that she wanted to know everything about her world. Even when reading to her, we do this.  Although we often just read fun books, we try to challenge her by reading above the level she reads at some of the time, & often, when reading 3 or 4 books at bedtime, I will choose one that is nonfiction & meant for much older kids such as planets or dinosaurs. Last summer K & I traveled to an area with lots of irrigation equipment in the fields. We had a long talk about how it brings water to the plants in the field. Afterwards I found myself marveling at K's inquisitiveness & the many questions she asks. How often do we explain things like this in detail to a 3 or 4 year old? I think explaining daily life also has helped a lot with understanding of everyday things.

When teaching words we used programs or hand made flashcards that had a clear concise picture. 
Our favorite reading program is Little Reader made by BrillKids. When using this program you can easily show a picture with each word & customize everything to suit your child's needs. This at least helps them understand each individual word. When we worked on sentences, we chose files that were very descriptive with very clear pictures.

When reading a story, we always talked about the words & pointed out how it is happening in the picture, so even as a baby, K knew that the words were talking about what she saw in the pictures.

We tried very hard not to test K or put any pressure on her to read so we have had to find sneaky ways to test her reading. We have used action sentences to help K show us her understanding. Here is a link to a blog post that I did talking about this very subject & how we used some commercially made cards to test K's comprehension.

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