Developmentally Ready to Comprehend??

I need your help.  
I would love it if you could weigh in on something.
Have you heard about any new "brain research" regarding reading comprehension?

I haven't read the research myself.  I don't even know who published it.  Instead it has been discussed by few in our school, with suggestions that we may be expecting too much from our students when it comes to their reading comprehension.

It has been said that the research indicates that children are not developmentally ready to comprehend text until 3rd grade.   

What do you think about that statement?

This pretty much goes against all I have learned and the philosophy of the teaching within our school.  Then when you look at the Common Core Learning Standards, students in first grade are expected to master the ability to ask and answer questions about key details, retell stories and demonstrate an understanding of the central message/lesson.  Our kinderkids are expected to do some of these things with prompting and support.  My four year-old is already able to do some of these things.  Hmmmmm....

So I wondered if any of you have come across any of this research in your readings?  What do you think of it?

I think I know the answer to this, but your school doesn't begin comprehension instruction until 3rd grade, right?

I would really love to hear your thoughts!


  1. I would love to see who published this.
    I know many say k-2 is learning to read and grades beyond that is reading to learn.

  2. I worked on some comprehension today with Audrey. Hmmm...I would like to know who published this too?? I kindly disagree with "them":)

  3. Would love to read this research! Just from what I've heard so far, I would have to disagree.
    Conversations in Literacy

  4. I think it depends on the child and what your expectations are. I think young children are totally able to comprehend, make connections, question, etc with text...especially if it is read to them or in a group setting. However, as a former third grade teacher, I know that if a child is not fluently reading, he or she is probably limited as to their comprehension without repeated readings. Fluency allows the reader to focus on understanding. Maybe the research is speaking specifically about situations where the young children are reading independently, and in that case I understand (maybe) what they are saying (esp. if the kids aren't fluent readers)...Of course, I don't know the specifics of the studies.
    First Grade Blue SKies

  5. I was wondering the same thing that Jennifer said about reading independently versus reading aloud. I know that I don't focus as much on reading comprehension with books read independetly until they start reading a little more fluently. But they are completely ready to comprehend and discuss books we read aloud. Now that I'm thinking about this, I think they can also comprehend books they read independently when they have the support and sccaffolding to go with it. It's hard to balance what is developmentally appropriate and what we ask the students to do. I think sometimes they are capable of doing so much as long as they have the support. They are so excited adn ready to learn at this age.

  6. I am hoping to get a copy next week and will let you know. I feel like our K-2 kids are definitely learning to read, but they are also reading to learn also.
    I do wonder if it is being taken out of context because I do agree with you Jennifer. But what is being said has been almost a blanket statement, regardless of how weak or strong the student's oral reading fluency is.
    Thank you for all of your input!!

  7. I'd like to see who published this "research". You can make research say almost anything you want it to say...
    Children naturally begin comprehending on their own at a very YOUNG age...well below 3rd grade. Even my 22 month old can infer when I'm in a bad mood and choose to play on my emotions by throwing things, saying "No", etc.
    Maybe this group of researchers has never been around children...:)

  8. I would have to agree with Jennifer. All of my students are able to make connections, answer questions, and identify story structure when a story is read aloud to them. I have a majority of my class reading on level and most of those are reading fluently,so they are able to recall story details as well. However, those students who may be reading below grade level don't have the comprehension skills that my higher readers do. But they can all comprehend text when it's read to them.

    A Day in First Grade

  9. I would love to know the motives behind the research. I am sure that if standardised testing of comprehension was only completed after grade 3, then school results would look very different.

    Finland does not start formal reading lessons until much later, around 7 or 8. But that is only one of the reasons they are doing so well.

    I wonder if the data/research was trying to emphasis LISTENING comprehension in the early years, rather than READING comprehension because I know here in Australia we are showing issues with receptive language and speech.

    Lots of questions. Interesting.

  10. My own children have had strong listening comprehension and in examing pictoral details. I teach my kinders comprehension in whole group and in small group (although I do focus with some groups more on sounds and letters). They all work on skills like comparing and charter traits which can be more difficult. I have observed recently that some of my struggling readers did better with comprehension because they used the pictures and text and background knowledge as the text was harder for them than the students reading more difficult text who focused more on text and sometimes skipped text features. I would like to approach the statement from another angle though. Legally, children under 8 aren't held responsible for certain actions because it is understood that they aren't developmentally at the point where they understand. They may have difficulty knowing death is final. This theory could be applied to certain higher level comprehension skills.