Donna is a primary literacy specialist, researcher and educational writer who has spent ten years researching and developing effective ways of teaching young children how to infer and apply core comprehension strategies to support reading and learning across the curriculum.
‘Reading pictures can be as easy or difficult as reading printed text.’ Gomez-Reino, 1996
My research into how to teach young children explicit inference skills began in 2001 when I observed that there was a discrepancy in my school between many of our fluent reader's ability to read and their overall comprehension.
Evidence worryingly showed that an emphasis placed on phonics was producing readers who could decode the words but often had no understanding of their meaning. This was later reflected in the Rose Review’s ‘Simple View of Reading’ (2006) and more recently substantiated by York University’s ESRC reading study (2008) that raised the concern that ‘pupils' ease at reading words out loud may mask those who have difficulties with comprehension’. The cause of the problem was highlighted further by Anne Kispal’s ‘Effective Teaching of Inference’ NFER report in 2008 which concluded that poor inferencing skills cause poor comprehension and not vice versa’.
We realised that there was clearly a need to teach our children how to consciously infer and apply comprehension strategies as early as possible, if we wanted them to read for meaning and enjoyment from the very beginning.