Elementary Reading: Inferring, Foreshadowing and Making Predictions

Is your child in elementary school? If so, then it's probable that he or she's learning about inferring, foreshadowing and making predictions in English/language arts class. Keep reading to find out ways that you can help your child with these aspects of elementary reading at home.

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How to Help Your Child with Inferring, Foreshadowing and Predictions

Teaching Reading at Home

First of all, encourage your child to read for pleasure as well as for school. The more your child reads, the more his or her comprehension's likely to grow. When discussing reading and schoolwork with your child, avoid yes and no questions. Use open-ended questions to encourage your child to think critically and formulate his or her own opinions.

Sometimes a lack of comprehension is due to a lack of organization. Have your child get in the habit of using graphic organizers to arrange his or her assumptions, predictions and conclusions about a text. Your child will likely benefit from keeping track of the main events as well. You can make it fun by getting involved and writing your ideas down, too.


Inferring requires drawing conclusions based on evidence. Begin by choosing the text you want your child to read carefully. Make sure the story is open to interpretation. In the beginning, give your child visual examples in addition to text. This will help him or her draw conclusions and provide visual evidence before applying it to his or her reading.

Create a fun activity that emphasizes the differences between inferences and assumptions. For example, play a board game such as 'Clue' or 'Saboteur' with your child. Although it's against the official rules, as suspects get narrowed down, have discussions about the game. Create an understanding with your child about what's inferred by the actual information and what's based on preconceived ideas.


Foreshadowing, at it's most basic, is when an author places clues in a text indicating the direction the narrative will take. To teach your child to recognize these clues, sit down with her or him and try to spot them. For example, there might be a book where a character decides to do something wrong based on the peer pressure of a friend. Right before the main character does it, clues may be planted in the narrative that give a reader clues about the dark things that will happen as a result. In texts like this, when the main character learns a lesson at the end of a story, your child may reflect on the foreshadowing clues that were used to emphasize the moral.

Making Predictions

The ability to theorize about what may or may not happen in a text is commonly a strong sign that your child is thinking critically about reading. Whether your child is reading for school or for pleasure, sit him or her down and ask questions about any specific text. Ask your child to try to predict what might happen generally, or in regards to any given character. The more your child is able to think about a text in this way, the more he or she's likely to have a mastery of basic reading skills.

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