Active reading isn’t the same as reading for pleasure, and it’s a key skill for your teen to develop for their GCSEs. Essentially, active reading involves evaluating and analysing a text as you read it. Instead of simply letting the story engage your attention, you should be working to look into deeper themes.
So, how do you help your GCSE-level teen honed their active reading skills?
Address Specific Goals
In many ways, you can think of active reading as reading with purpose. You aren’t simply using the text as a tool for entertainment – instead, you’re approaching it as a piece of art that can pose certain questions and be approached from different angles. With that in mind, try coming to each chapter or section with specific goals. For example, you could ask yourself why the author chooses to employ certain images during a certain section, or you could consider what is motivating a certain character. By focusing on such issues, you take your first step towards active engagement.
It’s easy to go overboard when it comes to taking notes, but you should still be physically as well as mentally active when you’re reading a GCSE text with your teen. As you go, keep looking out for key phrases that relate to your specific goals. To read actively, you need to be able to back up your contentions with examples from the text.
Test your Memory
GCSE English exams involve being able to remember the text as well as analyse it. When you finish each chapter, you should go over a few basic questions to make sure your teen has taken everything in. It’s a good idea to read ahead and pick out a few points that are worth remembering.
Finish with Questions and Reviews
Active engagement doesn’t end when you finish reading. In fact, most of the work comes afterwards, when you take the time to reflect on the text and analyse it more closely. So, don’t finish reading a section and then assume you’re done. Instead, discuss certain points. If you’re stuck, try looking for questions in a study guide. Remember, there’s no right answer.