Crane Country Day School Established 1928

Crane School Blog: Focus on Learning

Featuring articles written by Crane Staffulty

For more information about Crane Country Day School, please contact or call 805-969-7732 x127.

Background Knowledge: A Building Block for Reading Comprehension
Kristi Dichard

Teachers and parents have many common goals for the children in their care. Being a competent and engaged reader is high on that list. But what does it take to become a reader with great comprehension?

Studies (Alexander, Kulikowich, & Schulze, 1994; Shapiro, 2004) have shown that background knowledge plays an enormous role in reading comprehension (Hirsch, 2003). Natalie Wexler, author of The Knowledge Gap, states, “Students with more [background] knowledge have a better chance of understanding whatever text they encounter. They’re able to retrieve more information about the topic from long-term memory, leaving more space in working memory for comprehension.” 

So how can you help? Here are 3 ideas to help build background knowledge and support better reading comprehension. 

1. Picture books for all ages: Picture books provide a perfect introduction to topics in an enjoyable format, and they are not only for small children. Check out the California Young Reader Medal category: Picture Books for Older Readers for a wide variety of topics that will build background knowledge.

2. Multimedia: Not all screen time is bad. The use of virtual field trips, documentaries, and short videos can help children better understand a wide variety of topics.

3. Deep Dive: Typically children are encouraged to read about a variety of topics. However, a deep dive can also support reading comprehension. Encourage your child to compare and contrast the information from a variety of sources on the same topic. This will encourage critical thinking.

Kristi Dichard

Interim Head of Lower School


Most Recent Posts

Back to Happy Accidents

What do Velcro and matches have in Common? Yep, Happy accidents (as mentioned below). Sticky notes were inadvertently created by 3M scientist Spencer Silver; instead of the super bonding substance he was trying to achieve, he was blessed with a feeble pressure sensitive tack that would remain useless until it became the greatest invention ever.

A Recipe for Recharge

I am watching as my students innovate before my eyes, and I am envisioning the baking club that they might teach in ten years. 

A Spotlight on Spotlight

Every Friday at Crane, there is excitement and joy on campus.  It is not because it’s Friday and the weekend is near, but because everyone knows that Friday is the Spotlight assembly!