Why We Make Children Answer Comprehension Questions in Full Sentences

Last weekend, I observed one of my teachers talking to a student.  This is how the conversation went:

Teacher: So Adam, why didn’t you write the answers to these comprehension questions in full sentences?

Adam: I didn’t know how to spell all the words.

Teacher: But the words were in the question.  They were right there in front of you.

Adam: My mum said that I couldn’t look at the words.

Teacher: So that’s why you only answered yes or no to each question.

Adam: Yes miss and she didn’t check it so I got away with it.

In fact Adam’s mum made the task more difficult by doing this and didn’t really understand the object and point of this particular homework.

We are trying to encourage Adam to get into the habit of answering comprehension questions in full sentences to improve his spellings and sentence structure. Because he finds reading challenging, he also finds it hard to copy words correctly.  That’s why at my centre, we encourage the students to copy the words from the question, because that way, they are at least seeing the words, writing down the words and making sure the words are correct.  By the time the student has answered all the question he will have seen the words at least 3 times.

Getting into the habit of answering comprehension questions in full sentences gets children ready to answer more complex probing questions when they get older.  At key stage 3 and GCSE level, children are expected to quote from the text and explain their answer.  They need to show that they have understood the text.