It’s easy to hand a child a book and tell them to read it. However, at all levels, the work that goes in before the first word of a book makes an incredible difference in overall comprehension. So, what exactly does work before a book begins look like? No matter if your child is in kindergarten or twelfth grade it all boils down to two things.

  1. Activating Schema – Our schema is what we already know about a topic. Activating schema is opening up the file of what we know and considering the information we find there as a way of preparing ourselves for what we could encounter while we are reading. For younger students especially, this step helps them to be ready for the content specific words that the book may contain. For older students, this step is essential as it prepares their minds for new incoming information that may change or adjust the schema they previously held.
  2. Predicting – After recognizing what we already know about a topic, we need to take time to consider how this could play out in the course of a book. This consideration should not be done quickly though also should not take a substantial amount of time as there is no way to actually know what direction an author will go.

While the work before diving into a book doesn’t take but a few minutes, it makes all the difference in the depth and breadth of understanding as the story unfolds. Keep things smart. Keep things simple.