Friday, March 15, 2013

Reading Comprehension, Life Comprehension

As is our usual bedtime custom, my son and I were reading the other evening. It was the day that he had his major incident at school, so he was still feeling glum. Instead of reading himself, Kai wanted me to read to him.

He picked a book we got from the library, one of the Fox series written by noted children’s author, James Marshall.

I read aloud.

The story begins with Fox’s mother asking him to take his little sister to the park. Fox does not want to go; he wants to stay home and watch tv instead. But his mother insists so he reluctantly went. At the park, he meets a beautiful girl fox. She thought it was wonderful that Fox took his little sister to the park. Fox said of course, he loves to do that. His sister rolls her eyes.

I stopped and asked Kai why Fox’s sister rolled her eyes. He did not know, he said.

I asked him what Fox said right before she rolled her eyes. I had to point out the passage and Kai read the part about Fox saying that he enjoyed bringing his sister to the park.

I again asked Kai why his sister rolled her eyes at that. Still, he did not know.

I asked him if Fox really wanted to take his sister to the park. Yes, said Kai.

I went back to the earlier passage that indicated that his mother had to force him to take his sister to the park. Kai still had trouble putting it all together. I ended up explaining the whole thing to him.

Kai is a good reader when it comes to knowing the words. But as this one example shows, even seemingly simple aspects of stories are hard for him to comprehend.

* * * * *

At dinnertime, my wife and I always have Kai talk about his day at school. Oftentimes he will express anger at a teacher or student.

“David is mean.”

Why is that?

“He’s a bully.”

What did he do?

He got to use the computer.

Oh, so you are angry that he got to use the computer?


Did you get to use the computer?


It takes awhile, but we piece together that Kai misbehaved and lost his privilege to use the computer at break time. The other boy got to use the computer, which made Kai mad.

It was all the result of his own action. But Kai does not seem to understand that. In his mind, the other boy was mean, and that is that.

* * * * *

After seeing Kai’s difficulty in answering the simple questions about the bedtime story the other night, I realized that the same difficulty he has in comprehending the story was also affecting his reasoning skills when it came to real-life events.

He can’t put two and two together to understand that his own actions are what cause some of his worst moments.

Until he can, I think it will always be a challenge to get him to accept responsibility for his actions. Until then, while his anger is seen less often than before, I think we will continue to see the type of inappropriate behaviors that he did the other day.

So, this is our mission.

It’s not just about reading comprehension. It’s about his life.


  1. Well, that is very interesting and a good thing for you to have observed! Half the battle is understanding what's in his mind and you've hit on something important, I think. Some things are more abstract and hard to grasp, even though we think they are obvious, as in the story. Maturity, too, will help as time goes on, with things like being angry with David because his own computer time was withheld.

    1. The challenge is to teach him how things relate. He sees only the end result but doesn't put together the steps that led up to it. He really has yet to master reasoning skills at its most basic level. It's not like we (and the school) haven't tried to work on this, but we clearly have a long way to go.

  2. We are teaching our son Reading Comprehension...especially when it comes to human interaction. I will start showing my son Japanese and Korean dramas. They excel in human interaction and, especially, facial expressions depicting human emotions in context to the situation.

    1. Your son's achievements are truly remarkable. I'm sure he will develop his reading comprehension skills nicely. I'll be reading to see how he does with the Japanese and Korean dramas.

  3. What a fascinating albeit painful comprehension for you
    It makes one feel so sad that our kiddos don't even realize when they have done something wrong - how unfair life must seem to them :-(
    It will come though - of that I am confident

    1. Yes, I have to constantly remind myself that Kai doesn't think about things in the same way most of us do. When I realize that, it is easier to help him. Hopefully we will find better ways for him to understand.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...