In This Issue

Sign up today for our fun (and educational, shhh!) summer programs:
Ready Reader Foundations: Work on phonological awareness, spelling, and reading fluency skills.

Ready Reader Building Comprehension:
Improve reading comprehension and analysis skills. 

Learn strategies to assist in every step of the writing process, including pre-writing, researching, drafting, revising, and editing.

Build confidence in math skills including: basic math (grades 3-8), pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, and calculus.

A great way to have your child engage in summer reading!

Prepare for a successful start to the school year and beyond by tackling the most annoying, yet critical, parts of gearing up for school, including back-to-school shopping!


A group program to develop problem-solving and executive functioning skills through fun, hands-on challenges. 

A group program involving real-life practice of executive functioning skills by planning a trip to a DC area landmark, museum, or sporting event.


Prepare to apply to college by focusing on setting priorities and goals; making and revising plans; and initiating, executing, and completing the different tasks in the application process .

Going to college is an exciting new chapter, one that is fast-paced and requires a new level of independence. This program helps focus on the key areas that tend to get overlooked while preparing to head off to college. 

Managing Anxiety: Quick Tips to Support Your Child

All behavior is a form of communication. There are many reasons why a child may become disruptive or have a tantrum, and it can be challenging to identify the underlying cause of this behavior. When anxiety is fueling negative behavior, it is particularly complicated to figure out.

The National Institute of Mental Health (2017) reported that anxiety affects 31.9% of adolescents (ages 13-18) in the United States. While anxiety is not formally considered a learning disability, it certainly inhibits a child's ability to learn. When a child is experiencing anxiety, they have poor regulation skills, limited executive functioning, and develop rigid social thinking that prevents them from taking another person's perspective.

The key to supporting a child with anxiety is to identify and prevent anxiety triggers and build social-emotional skills to cope when anxiety arises.

MARCH 2018

By  Jennifer Sax

Reading comprehension is a term we often hear teachers or other professionals use to talk about students' understanding of what they read. But what exactly does that involve, and how can it be supported and improved? 


The act of reading is a complex skill that can be broken down into five main components: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Without competent skills in each of these areas, reading becomes challenging. Each of these skills is briefly described below: 
  • Phonemic awareness is the ability to segment, combine, and manipulate sounds in spoken words. For example, hearing the sounds /f/- /i/- /sh/ separately and being able to combine the sounds to make the word fish.
  • Phonics is the relationship between the symbol/letter and the sound. For example, the "a" in the word cat makes a short /a/ vowel sound.
  • Fluency is the skill of reading accurately at an appropriate rate with the correct inflection. This includes pausing after periods and reading smoothly without word repetitions.
  • Vocabulary is the understanding of word meanings and is an essential skill in reading comprehension.
  • Comprehension is a complex cognitive process needed to understand what one reads.

Reading comprehension, as mentioned above, is a complex process that involves different brain functions to work together to interpret the words on the page as well as the author's intended meaning. To understand written language, one's brain must process not only the literal words written on the page, but also the meaning of the words based on the relationship among the words for that particular sentence. Additionally, one must be able to tease out the subtle signs of language that evoke emotion and meaning, and then understand how all of the parts of the sentence contribute to its overall meaning.   There are many steps to the process!
Reading comprehension skills include, but are not limited to:
  • Identifying the main idea and details
  • Sequencing events in a story
  • Using context and prior knowledge to gain understanding
  • Forming conclusions and making predictions and inferences
  • Understanding the difference between fact and opinion
  • Understanding cause/effect relationships


When there is a breakdown in a student's reading comprehension, he/she may be confused about the meaning of words and sentences or show an inability to connect ideas in a text. When writing about the text or responding to questions, the student may leave out or forget important details and have difficulty deciding which pieces of information in a text are essential and which are the details. 

A student who struggles with reading comprehension may also demonstrate a lack of focus during reading and avoid assignments where reading is required. 


Improve Your Vocabulary: Reading comprehension is based on a combination of vocabulary, context, and the interaction of words. Therefore, a student must be able to understand each moving piece before understanding the text as a whole. Help your child use context clues (the text around the words) to figure out what words mean. If the meaning cannot be inferred, look it up in the dictionary. Create flashcards or a Quizlet for words you don't know and review them weekly.

Use Visualization: Visualization is a valuable strategy that can help students improve their reading comprehension. Visuals can be developed in your child's mind or drawn out on paper. Pictures can also be used before you begin reading to help support a student's background knowledge (e.g., maps, pictures of characters, setting, etc.). One way to use visualization is to pause after reading a few sentences or paragraphs that contain descriptive information (setting, characters, actions). Talk out loud about the image you've created in your mind, and identify which words from the book helped you create your image. By doing this, you ask your child to create images in his/her mind. You can also relate your picture to what is happening in the story and discuss how it helped you to understand the story better. Have your student take a turn and compare your images. Drawing them on paper could be a fun activity! 

Read More Often: The best way to improve reading comprehension skills is through practice. And the best way to practice is to have fun with it! Read about topics that interest your child, so reading is looked at as a fun activity. One can also choose books that are slightly below his or her reading level. This makes the book enjoyable to read, rather than a task you must struggle through. 

Join a Book Club:  Joining a book club or reading a book with a friend or parent can help build comprehension skills. While doing this, engage in discussions to help students dive deeper into their reading. Readers can make connections as they read by reflecting on the information with another reader, leading to more interaction and a better understanding. Some questions that can help build comprehension skills include:
  • What do you know about the book's topic?
  • Does this book remind you of anything in your life?
  • Have you experienced any of the events or situations in this book?
  • Can you understand how the character was feeling? Why?
  • What do you think is going to happen next?


Building reading comprehension skills takes practice, and students who struggle need explicit instruction to help them learn strategies.

Come join Thinking Organized this summer in our Ready Reader, Building Comprehension Program, or for one of our Book Clubs