Grammar Vocabulary & Comprehension


Comprehension Grammar and Vocabulary

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If you have successfully taught your child how to read then pat your self on the back. Your preemptive measures have already put your child ahead of most children on his grade level; moreover you have removed him from the damning statistic that affects many African American students. With consistent practice, your child will begin to improve in her reading speed and comprehension, this, however, does not mean you should cease in instruction or determination. Remember you are your child’s first teacher.

It is also important that you do not depend on teachers to notice your child’s advanced abilities or allow schools to limit your child’s potential by placing her in basic classes according to her age. Study after study has found that African American students’ potential often goes unnoticed and they are omitted from gifted programs because teachers identify students of color as less intelligent than their white or Asian counterparts. So it is vital that you do not allow these biases to affect your child’s future. If your child is reading at a 3rd grade level, speak with officials about getting her tested and skipped ahead a grade or placed in the gifted program.  Even though you may gain success here, I still urge you to not rely on the school system alone.  Your child’s future is too important to permit others to have total responsibility for it. And remember, unchallenged, your child will lose her intellectual advantage.

As a next step begin teaching your child grammar, vocabulary and reading comprehension. Unlike when teaching basic reading, there is no hard and fast way to teach these subjects but there are some concepts and activities that are extremely important for your child’s advancement that aren’t always taught in schools.

  • Grammar Concepts
  • Reading Comprehension Concepts
  • Vocabulary Concepts
  • Resources

Although basic grammar concepts are taught in school, it is important that you reemphasize the proper usage of grammar at home: both verbally and through written practice.

(For the record, I am not saying one should completely eliminate the comfort of slang, but rather children should recognize it for what it is. When improper English is regularly used, children can often come to understand it as standard. In conversations with friends this is ok, but on standardized tests and job interviews, its definitely not.)

Below are the basic and more advanced grammar concepts.  Your child’s understanding of these concepts greatly improves as they continue reading at higher levels and begin writing practice. For practice, I highly recommend using books from scholastic. However, if you would like to develop your own methods to help your child focus on these topics, this basic grammar cheat sheet found on pinterest may prove helpful.


Often the more advanced grammar concepts are not expounded upon in school, these however, tend to be the concepts that students need to understand in order to do well on standardized tests.  This list is in no way exhaustive but I believe understanding these concepts will help your child to expand his or her writing ability.

DIRECT OBJECTS: is a noun or pronoun that receives the action of a verb or shows the result of the action. It answers the question “What?” or “Whom?” after an action verb.

  • Example: Phoenix and Jaylen played soccer .
    • Phoenix , Jaylen= subjects;
    • played = verb.
    • Phoenix and Jaylen played what?
      • Soccer = direct object.

PREPOSITIONS: are words which precedes a noun or pronoun to show its relationship (or location) to another word in the sentence.  It can show the physical location or the temporal (time) location. Prepositions may answer: which, when, where or what direction.


VERB TYPES: There are several different verb types within a sentence:  Irregular verbs, Main and helping verbs, linking verbs, Action verbs


RELATIVE CLAUSES: provide additional information about the nouns they modify without starting another sentence. Relative pronouns are which/that, who/that, where, when and whose.


DETERMINERS/ARTICLES/QUANTIFIERS: are words at the beginning of a phrase that tell the reader or listener whether we’re referring to a specific or general thing

  • Specific determiners: are used when we believe the listener or reader knows what we are referring to:
    • the definite article: the
    • possessives: my, your, his, her, its; our, their, whose
    • demonstratives: this, that, these, those
    • interrogatives: which
  • General determiners: are articles used to discuss a general item or noun
    • a; an; any; another; other; what

INTERJECTIONS: are words used to express strong feelings or sudden emotion. They are included in a sentence (usually at the start) to express a sentiment such as surprise, disgust, joy, excitement, or enthusiasm and are usually set off by commas. If an interjection is forceful it may be followed by an exclamation point.  In general, an interjection is not grammatically related to any other part of the sentence.

  • Example (with exclamation): Hey! Get off that floor!
  • Example (with comma): Yes, I will be over at 8:00 pm.
The writing portion of the SAT focuses heavily on your child’s ability to express his or her ability to effectively write an essay using well developed ideas and accurate supporting information, proper syntax, consistency, logical expressions of ideas, and appropriate use of conventions. In addition to the essay portion, students must answer a multiple choice section where they must improve sentences, identify sentence errors, and improve paragraphs. This portion tests grammar, convention usage, coherence and organization.

This is why understanding the above information is highly effective for succeeding on this test. Begin these concepts early.  

While vocabulary, grammar and fluency are great building blocks for effective reading, the ultimate goal of reading is knowledge acquisition and the ability expressing ideas verbally and in writing. This is determined by one’s ability to comprehend text. Specifically, comprehension is when readers can:

  • Interpret and evaluate events, dialogue, ideas, and information
  • Connect information to what they already know
  • Adjust current knowledge to include new ideas or look at those ideas in a different way
  • Determine and remember the most important points in the reading
  • Read “between the lines” to understand underlying meanings
When reading a book, story or passage, the goal should be to identify or perform these simple concepts.


  • Main Idea
  • Facts and Details
  • Author’s Purpose
  • Facts vs. Opinions
  • Cause and Effect
  • Figurative Language
  • Word Meaning


  • Make Comparisons and Contrasts
  • Make Predictions
  • Draw Conclusions and Make Inferences
  • Summarize
  • *Determine Importance
  • *Make Personal connections
  • *Ask Questions

The most valuable resource I have found for teaching these concepts is Scholastic Success With Grammar, Grade 5 (Scholastic Success with Workbooks: Grammar) It covers numerous concepts in great depth.

The Critical Reading section, which is comprised of sentence completion and passage based reading, accounts for approximately 69% of the SAT test questions and about 60% of the testing time. The key factor in being able to understand the requirements in these sections is reading comprehension.

The passages require students to use many of the same concepts indicated above to answer questions from one of four areas:

  1. Extended Reasoning Questions or Drawing Conclusions from information in the passage based on facts, assumptions and inferences.
    • Some extended reasoning questions will also ask you to consider the author’s style, tone or attitude (i.e. the authors purpose).
  2. Vocabulary in Context Questions where you must identify the particular situation in which a word is used. This relates to the idea of using context clues to figure out the meaning of a word.
  3. Literal Comprehension Questions there is no explanation necessary here. This area of testing will require that you understand almost every aspect of reading comprehension and that you specifically can understand vocabulary and  identify facts, opinions, details, and make inferences.
  4. Paired Paragraphs or Passages involves the ability to identify common themes or subjects and requires the knowledge of comparing and contrasting.

Schools tend to focus on simplistic words and often do not dive into a great deal of complicated vocabulary. Additionally many students are not exposed to these words at home, which scientific research suggests is a great determinant for brain development and future success.

But there are ways to ensure your child expands his vocabulary.

One direct way of teaching vocabulary is by identifying a Vocabulary word of the day. Vocabulary Cartoon Of The Day book teaches complicated vocabulary words in a funny and memorable way by using short comics. But this is not the only method for learning vocabulary.

Two key concepts:Vocabulary Packets: Greek & Latin Roots and Vocabulary Packets: Prefixes & Suffixes,will help your child use his  critical thinking ability to expand his vocabulary and figure out the meaning of new words. Scientific research on morphological awareness states that understanding morphemes (prefixes, suffixes and roots) is the strongest and most consistent predictor of reading comprehension, vocabulary and spelling success.

Scholastic books, are, again, my go to source for teaching my son these concepts.

Vocabulary is a KEY concept tested in the SAT. Although the SAT doesn’t use the traditional antonym/synonym method anymore, students must still be able to use their knowledge of vocabulary concepts to answer MOST of the SAT questions. In the sentence completion section of the SAT, students must be able to understand fairly complex sentences and use context clues to determine the meanings of words.




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