Reading comprehension is the ability to understand the many words and ways that writers create meaning and communicate their thoughts to us.
Reading comprehension is the key to everything. Kids cannot succeed unless they understand what they read. A lack of reading comprehension limits their learning ability in every area. They can't complete their homework independently because they can't acquire the knowledge from the textbooks on their own. Students struggle with math because word problems require the ability to decode the words and to understand how they are organized in the sentence. In every subject, whether science, literature, or history, students struggle because they aren't able to accurately acquire knowledge from the texts that they are required to read.
Writing is also dependent on reading comprehension. Students are required to answer questions from and write critical responses to academic texts. But how can they respond to what they don't understand? How can they answer questions about reading material that they don't comprehend?
And schools (whether they be charter schools or public schools) don't make it any better for the students. So much time is spent on test preparation that reading comprehension becomes a matter of giving the students shortcuts or strategies based on answering certain types of questions. But none of this prepares the student to read independently, to think analytically, and to respond critically.
Comprehension is the key that unlocks the door of knowledge to every subject area. A lack of reading comprehension is an insurmountable barrier to knowledge. Students who cannot read can never succeed.
So then if we agree that comprehension is the key to everything, we must ask: what are the keys to reading comprehension? The answer is simple: vocabulary and grammar are the keys to comprehension. Students need to understand words and the ways that writers organize those words to communicate meaning. A rich vocabulary deepens students understanding of the many ways that words can be used and the multiple meanings and nuances which words can have in different contexts. Mastery of grammar allows students to see how writers use the various parts of speech such as adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, verbs, pronouns, and nouns, to organize and structure both what they want to say and the way they want to say it. When students understand what words mean, and the way words create meaning, then--and only then-- are they are able to comprehend what writers are saying and to respond in mature and eloquent ways to various texts. Students learn to write best by analyzing, imitating, and creatively taking ownership of the words, sentence patterns, and paragraph structures which they have been learning to comprehend through their study of grammar and vocabulary.
So if you want your students to become independent learners and critical thinkers, if you want them to succeed, then let us help you to teach them the grammar and vocabulary they need to understand--and respond to--everything they read.