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Reading comprehension / short term memory

(8 Posts)
legalalien Wed 24-Apr-13 11:46:53

Ds is in Y3. He is a fluent reader, good at spelling, and at maths. He is excellent at remembering all kinds of random facts.

However, he complains that he has a mental block when it comes to reading comprehension type things. By the time he's read ten pages of a book he starts to lose the thread of what's going on and finds it hard to answer questions about what has happened / what the story is about.

It's not that he's reading without understanding. If we read together or he reads out loud, and we discuss, it's clear that he understands all the words / what is happening.

Any ideas what this is about / any tips and tricks? I have to confess that I've always had similar memory type issues - I have great long term memory of facts, and can work things out from first principles. But my short term memory is cactus.

learnandsay Wed 24-Apr-13 13:00:27

Comprehension was always one of my best subjects but I can't answer detailed questions on ten pages of a book either. In exams I remember comprehension being set as a block of text followed by questions and, provided you'd left yourself enough time in the exam, you could reread the text as many times as you liked.

Later on in literature exams I remember general questions about the text being asked like why did Gollum feel cheated? If you'd understood the book you'd know that proximity to the ring made all the characters paranoid. That's just understanding the story in general but it's not remembering ten pages line by line.

I think what teachers want to know is has he understood the story, not can he remember the structure of the last x pages.

freetrait Wed 24-Apr-13 14:19:30

He sounds pretty normal. Is he happy to re-read to find out the answers? It's usual to have to re-read stuff to do comprehension. Well, I always have/had to!! smile.

legalalien Wed 24-Apr-13 15:14:12

Interesting. I told him to reread to get answers - I also have to - and he says he can do that but it takes ages (I think the stuff they get in class is more like about 3 pages, the issue I have about the ten pages is that he actually starts to lose the thread of a novel after about that period of time (and then complains about it, i don't grill him on the books he is reading!) Only seems to be some books though. Harry potter is fine. I wonder if there is a pattern in terms of types of book - he's always preferred non fiction to descriptive stuff).

learnandsay Wed 24-Apr-13 15:49:42

Up to a point I think it's fine for both children and adults to lose the plot of a novel even while still reading it, up to a point. I don't think either children or adults should pick up the book half way through and be unable to tell what it's about, or whether or not it contains dinosaurs, cows or pirates. If that was the case either with adults or children I'd be worried. But if either has a general idea what it's about but needs to skip back a few pages to answer specific questions then to my way of thinking that's normal.

daftdame Wed 24-Apr-13 19:08:14

Maybe ask him to jot down rough outline of plot as he goes or you do this with him? Like a 'what has happened so far.'

Maybe he is getting bored of the story so you could try something very fast paced with lots of 'cliffhanger' moments. If he is really interested in what is happening he shouldn't have to try too hard to remember. I used to lose sense of the plot in books if there was pages where not much happened.

daftdame Wed 24-Apr-13 19:13:07

If you can find any of those books where the reader gets to make a choice about what they want the character to do, (do they do this? go to page x) he might like those.

bella65 Thu 25-Apr-13 14:41:15

I'm a teacher with special needs training.

I think you are being unrealistic to expect a yr 3 child remember what has happened 10 pages back for comprehension type questions.

Where is he being asked to do a comprehension type exercise which covers 10 pages?

Most comprehension texts whether for KS2 SATs or even English GCSE ( my subject as it happens) are one page or two at the most.

Are you muddling up following the plot in a story, and being able to answer written questions about a piece of text?

If he can't follow the story then you need to break it down into smaller chunks- by summarising each page or couple of pages, as you read it with him.

He's still very young- and TBH if I read a novel which doesn't 'grab' me, I have to have a really good think about what has happened so I stay on top of the plot and I think many adults would say the same.

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