Advice from Elephants: Making Predictions
Welcome to Elephant Notes . . . our periodic take on some of the ideas, issues, and news impacting parents, children, and reading. This week, we’re exploring another approach to more engaged reading: Making Predictions.
One of the things we feel makes Elephant Books so special is the Reading Tips we provide in each package. Inspired by our quest to promote a love of reading among families, they are meant to aid parents and children in interacting with the books we send and in building good literacy skills. In this spirit, we’ve expanded some of our tips to encourage parents to explore different approaches to reading. This month, we’re discussing Making Predictions.
The Benefits of Making Predictions
Making predictions is wildly helpful in developing literacy skills. Firstly, it encourages your child to think more deeply about the book you’re reading. Asking questions during the read prompts your child to analyze the characters, setting, and plot. They must remember what has already happened and consider it before making a prediction. This provides the push to think more about the novel and its fundamental components.
Furthermore, making predictions asks your child to draw upon their own personal experiences or knowledge they already have. They will likely base their predictions on what they have seen in real life or in other books. For example, if the book is about a monkey’s first day of school and they are in preschool or kindergarten, they will likely know what to expect of the monkey’s adventures—that he might pack his backpack, get on a bus, meet his teacher or make some new friends. In this way, asking your child to make predictions can encourage them to make connections between what they already know and what they’re being exposed to in the book. This is beneficial because we tend to learn things more effectively when we can connect new information to things that we already know.
Making predictions also encourages your child to become curious and inquisitive. If you prompt them to wonder about different things, you’ll create a habit in them of asking questions. They might begin asking more about their own world or why things are the way that they are.
Tips for Making Predictions
Before You Read:
Before you read, take a look at different parts of the book, such as the title, the cover, and the first few pages. Ask your child what they think the book will be about based on these key features. Additionally, you could even try to relate the book to one you’ve read before. You can say something like “Do you remember when we read the book about the dog that went to the veterinarian. Well this one is very similar,” and then ask them to make predictions.
Another great way to think about the book before you start reading is to do a Picture Walk. Quickly flip through the pages of the book, looking only at the pictures. Point out important moments or illustrations that might be important to the book’s plot. Ask your child to make predictions based on the pictures that they saw. This activity is great because it gets kids to think creatively and deeply about the book. It’s also a great way to expand their vocabulary because as you create your own imaginary version of the story, you will likely use different words or phrases than the book will. So, naturally, your child gets exposure to more language.
While You’re Reading:
While you’re reading, ask your child “What if?” questions. Have them imagine what would happen if a character made a certain decision or if something about the setting would change, for example. Doing this encourages them to engage with the text further as you’re reading along.
After you Read:
It’s important to follow up on the predictions that you and your child made before you started reading. After the book is over, remind your child of the predictions that you made and then ask if they came true or not. You might also ask them to imagine an alternative ending or potential sequels. These strategies will push your child to think more deeply about the book.
What if My Child Isn’t Old Enough Yet?
Children surprise new parents with their abilities all the time and often will be able to do more predicting than you think. However, parents reading with very young children can practice these tips by making the predictions themselves! Share with your child what you think will happen and why. Doing so will help create a routine so that when your child is old enough, they will want to conjure their own predictions as well. Additionally, offering your own predictions is a wonderful way to increase your child’s vocabulary. With young children, it’s always important to introduce them to as many words as possible, and sharing predictions is a great avenue to do so.