The value of pre-reading

Excelling in school doesn’t come naturally to everybody, and those who don’t do so well aren’t necessarily incompetent. We all have different natural inclinations, and for most, being an academic scholar isn’t among these innate tendencies. It doesn’t mean that school is not important, however, as education is the foundation for critical thinking and problem-solving skills. This is why it’s essential to improve a child’s ability to learn and understand new concepts, as that’s arguably more important than the course material itself. Among the many ways to improve a child’s ability to learn, pre-reading is one of the most effective.

In this article, we’ll discuss what pre-reading is, what the benefits are, and how you can look to implement it in your course.

How it works
The weekend before your students begin a new chapter in their class, they should open up the textbook to the first page of the chapter. Each student should read the title of the chapter, then take out a sticky note and complete a few sentences, discussed later down below.

Pre-reading is a process in which the course content is reviewed by the students before the actual course. It can help prime the child to the materials and give them more time to crystalise what they are about to learn. Pre-reading can be done in three simple steps:

Step #1: “I know…”
The students should give the upcoming chapter of their course material a quick read-through. They should have sticky notes with them as well as a highlighter to mark important information. At the end of the chapter, the student should jot down what they know so that they have a rough understanding of what the chapter is about.

Here is an example of a conclusion that they could write:

“I know that the earth orbits around the sun in an elliptical motion.”
“I know that the French Revolution began in 1798.”
“I know that ‘economic’ means ‘related to the trade of goods or capital.’”

Step #2: “I predict…”
Once they have familiarised themselves with the content, they can move on to predicting what will be discussed in class. This step will help them to establish a solid foundation for hypothesis-building, which is the basis of critical thinking.

For example:
“I predict that the class will discuss how James Cook discovered Australia.”
“I predict this will have something to do with the Anzac day.”
“I predict that this chapter will talk about the growth of the Australian Colony.”

Step #3: “I wonder…”
Lastly, they will need to understand what they can do with this information so that they can refer to it in the future. They will need to ask themselves about what they learn from the content will translate to other courses and fields of studies.

For example:
“I wonder what the effects of slavery on the economy were.”
“I wonder how the Cold Wars affected the global economy.”
“I wonder if the position of the world and the sun had anything to do with our mental state.”

Pre-reading primes students to succeed
The process of pre-reading can help spark a sense of curiosity in the minds of the students. The sense of wonder is the most crucial element of any successful person, as it helps to drive one to strive for the answer to a question or a solution to an equation. This is what pre-reading is designed to do—incite students to ask questions about what they are learning and so that they can relate it to other fields of studies. 

Alchemy Tuition specialises in English tutoring in Sydney, helping students study for their HSC and more. Get in touch today to see how we can help.