Reading and comprehension: Key Stage 3 English
By this stage, your child should be reading fluently. During key stage 3 (KS3), your child will be encountering different styles of writing from different cultures and time periods. Your child will be learning how to analyse the texts and understand the literary devices that the author uses to further improve their reading and comprehension skills.
In key stage 1 (KS1) and key stage 2 (KS2) your child would have come across simple, complex and compound sentences. However, reading and comprehension exercises in KS3 will be teaching your child to identify the various types of sentences in the texts that they read. A simple sentence is one that only has one clause, one subject and verb, to express one idea. For example: “The baby cried”.
A complex sentence is more detailed however. It has one main clause and one minor or more minor clause, which add further information to explain the main clause. For example: “When her mother left, the baby cried” is a complex sentence. This is because “the baby cried” is the main clause since it could make sense on its own. As “when her mother left” does not make sense on it’s own, it is the minor clause. A complex sentence can have more than one minor clause for example “When her mother left, the baby cried because she doesn’t like being left alone”.
Compound sentences are those which use a conjunction such as “and” or “because”, which allow the writer to join two or more clauses together, adding detail to the writing.
Now that your child is confident with conventional sentences, the will be introduced to sentences that do not appear to follow standard rules. One such example is the use of fragmented sentences. These are short and sometimes incomplete sentences that authors use to emphasise a point or to appear dramatic. For example: “Nothing. It’s empty.” Your child should also be able to identify sentence themes in a text. Authors often repeat some key words throughout a paragraph in order to create a dramatic effect. Children should be able to identify these and discuss the power they have on the audience.
In KS2, your child will have written their own stories and developed their own characters. In KS3, your child will be learning how to understand more complex characters and the literary devices that authors use. Understanding the character’s the author has created is an essential reading and comprehension skill. Based on their analysis of characters, your child should be able to predict how the character will act in different situations. They should be using their knowledge of adjectives as well as grammar and punctuation to infer how a character thinks, feels and behaves.
As your child reads newspapers and magazines, they will encounter more persuasive writing. Your child will be learning about how the writer uses sentence structure, grammar and punctuation to persuade the reader that something is true. The author may be trying to convince the audience to buy a product, of a particular idea or a fact about a character. Common techniques include adjectives, short simple sentences, and rhetorical questions. Your child should be able to identify these persuasive techniques. Your child should discuss how effective different persuasive techniques are.
Reading and comprehension are the first skills that will be developed in KS3. However, your child will also have to answer questions regarding the text, so analysing texts is also important. They may be asked to explain the effect that the writing has on the audience and how the author has created that effect. They may also be asked to explain the significance of a certain phrase or sentence or why a character feels a certain way. A good method for your child to use is the Point Evidence/Example Explanation method (P.E.E method). They should state their point, find evidence from the text and explain how the evidence they have selected supports their point.
It is also important that children can summarise a text, in their own words. This shows that they have understood the main points and message that the author is trying to get across. Summarising can be a difficult skill to learn, therefore lots of practice is required.
Reading and Comprehension: Resources
It is important that your child is reading a variety of texts outside of school to help them to develop their reading and comprehension skills as well as to give them practice analysing texts. Attached is a recommended reading list for pupils in years 7, 8 and 9 as well as a worksheet that they can use to practice writing about what they have read.