Archive for December, 2011

Reading for Meaning Can be Taught

Posted in reading for meaning, teaching children reading comprehension strategies, teaching children to make inferences | Comments Off on Reading for Meaning Can be Taught

Reading for


What exactly

do we mean

by that?


Reading for meaning can definitely be taught.  However, that is not where the skills for reading for meaning begin.


Where does reading for meaning begin?

Reading for meaning begins when a child develops the skills to fluently sound out every word on every page.  For most children, this requires systematic training in phonics.

How does reading for meaning progress?

After children develop the capability to read all the words on the page, they must then develop the ability to see and answer the basic Who? What? When? and Where? questions posed by the text.  However, this is not where reading for meaning ends.  In fact, this is where reading for meaning begins


What does NOT HELP to develop reading for meaning skills?

Some at our federal educational level feel that testing children frequently will help them develop better reading and comprehension skills.  However, tests simply reveal what students have failed to learn and what teachers have failed to teach; tests do not give teachers the skills they need to correct those failures.  Tests do no good unless a child’s Individualized Education Program includes the correct reading/discussion strategies specifically aimed at developing inferential thinking abilities. 

Others believe that developing long vocabulary lists will help children to better connect with the meaning on the page.  It’s true, better vocabulary skills definitely will help children to understand what they read, but “connecting” with the text – well – that’s a whole different story. 

What do we mean when we talk about “connecting” with the text? 

Connecting with the text, first of all, means that a child can personalize the meaning found in the words he reads.  In othe words, he must learn to routinely determine how the material on the page personally affects him.  It is this personalization, together with a student’s ability to grasp the meaning inbetween the words on the page as well as his ability to draw researched-based conclusions based upon those words that gives a child inferential thinking abilities

Just how important are inferential thinking skills?

To be sure, drawing inferential conclusions should be the whole goal of learning to read.  In fact, research done by Marie Clay, P. David Pearson, and other educators reveal that good readers of all ages continually use what they know and have experienced to thoroughly understand and apply what they hear and read. Unfortunately, very, very few of our students today have gained the skills necessary to do that. 


Inferential comprehension takes place when children

go beyond the standard facts given on a page

and draw their own research-based conclusions.



Can children really learn how to draw research-based conclusions? 

Yes!  Absolutely they can, if an adult in their lives takes the initiative to teach them.  Children can learn to answer more than the basic questions written in a text; they can learn to ask and answer the “Why?” questions and to persuade others of their point of view using attestable facts, testimony, and reasoning. 

Has anyone been successful in enabling children with inferential thinking skills?

Yes!  Absolutely!  Marva Collins took children that the public school system declared “learning disabled” (children who had been shuffled into the special education mainstream) and activated the inferential thinking skills hidden inside each one of them.  In turn, many of Marva’s students went on to colleges such as Harvard, Yale, and Stanford.  Many of those students became lawyers, doctors, engineers and educators. 

In contrast, did you know that almost 4 out of every 10 students in today’s public schools are reading below the basic proficiency reading level?  What’s more, as Marva Collins discovered, far too many of those students are being wrongly labeled as LD children.  That’s disturbing, because a recent study revealed by the National Center for Learning Disabilities reported that 66 percent of special education students are reading three or more grade levels behind and 20 percent of them are reading five or more grade levels behind. 

Try to imagine that.  What’s really sad is that almost every one of those children could have learned to read correctly if given adequate, systematic, phonics-first reading instruction, and almost every one of those children could have gained inferential thinking abilities had they been connected with an instructor or a parent or a grandmother who interacted with them through reading-aloud/discussion times aimed at developing inferential comprehension skills. 

How can Moms and Dads, Grandmas and Grandpas teach their children reading-for-meaning skills?

 Click here to read more about how you can give a child much-needed inferential, reading-for-meaning comprehension skills.   



Carol Kay, President

Candy 4WAY Phonics