Learning to Read: Why Comprehension Strategies are not Enough

It has been said that “if you can read, you can learn anything” because “reading is the key that opens the door”. Now Professor Daniel Willingham explains why content knowledge is essential to reading with comprehension, and why teaching reading strategies alone is not sufficient that students read with good comprehension.

I thought his message was pretty potent because it is a little like the chicken and egg story – which comes first? Well, in this case, they need to come together. Learning the rules of reading is not enough to understand what you read. You need to have a sufficient understanding of a wide variety of subjects before you can gain full understanding of anything you read. Here’s why…


Professor Willingham has two further articles on Why reading comprehension strategies are less useful than most people think and Why knowledge is important if you want to read more.

So if you want to broaden your child’s reading ability, after he  has learned the basics of reading so he has the skills to decipher the code of the written word, you need to teach him as much as you can about a variety of subjects so he can comprehend anything that he reads.

Also, if you read the second article from Professor Willingham, I think it also lends itself towards the argument for early childhood education. Early literacy and early education sets the foundation for greater learning when a child reaches school. It not only makes learning easier and but it facilitates learning more from school because you have already given your child a foundation to build upon. The basic foundation you help your child build in the preschool years allows your child to absorb even more new information, it helps your child to think about that new information, and it helps your child remember new information more easily. In short, knowledge begets knowledge, which then improves critical thinking and the speed at which your child can think.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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