Mrs. James answers readers' questions about education. Send yours today:

Hello Mrs. James,

I love your column. Thank you for making yourself available to parents! Here's my question: I have a very bright 8-year-old son whose math, reading, verbal, and writing skills are off the charts! We just received his scores back from the TerraNova and In View testing in which they measure reading, language and math. He averaged in the 90th percentile of 2nd graders in the nation in reading and math, however language dropped to 64th. Now, I'm not complaining, but can you share any exercises we can do with him at home that will help him in the area of comprehension? I think he's reading so fast that he doesn't take the time to really focus on what he's reading about. How can we help him get more or retain more of what he reads?

Mrs. Burton

Hi Mrs. Burton,

You must be very proud of your son. 90th percentile is a huge deal! I mean like seriously, O.M.G. He's awesome! When you see him today, give him a great big hug and a "you go, boy" from Mrs. James.

Now back to business. You may not believe me, but even adults struggle with reading comprehension. It's a skill that comes naturally for some, but requires a little extra work for others. You took the words right out of my mouth when you said that he reads too fast. Since he's such a bright kid, I doubt that he's having trouble grasping the concepts. He's probably just reading to get done instead of reading to actually understand. To help him develop the skill of reading comprehension you can do several things:

(1) Encourage him to stop after each paragraph when he's reading and ask himself what happened in the paragraph. You could even take it a step further and ask him how the paragraph he just read ties into the ones he read prior.
(2) Print off some reading comprehension worksheets for him to practice at home or work on over the summer. His teacher should be able to offer you some practice worksheets and the two of you can go over them together. Always make sure he's getting the main points: The Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. (3) Encourage reading 15 minutes before bed every night. The more kids read, the better their comprehension. I hope this helps!

Keep up the good work!
Mrs. James

Dear Mrs James,
How do you qualify for the GT (gifted and talented) program? My daughter gets straight As and Bs and they said she didn't qualify. Because, I'm a little confused. There are a lot of kids who are in the program that don't get as good of grades as my daughter.

Shanda Thompson

Hi Shanda,
This is going to sound a little weird, but the GT program doesn't really have much to do with grades. It is all about challenging those students who show advanced academic ability or creative talent. It is very possible for a C student to be in the GT program for being an advanced learner in science or even for having a creative talent in singing or dance.

To answer your question, students qualify for the GT program by being tested. The test results determine their admittance. Has your daughter been tested? If so, was she tested in all subjects? That's important. She could have only been tested in math, but actually qualify in reading. Does she have a creative talent that you might need to make her teacher aware of?

Keep this in mind: The GT program is awesome, but it isn't all that! Be proud of your daughter for working so hard in school. If she doesn't qualify for the GT program then so what! There's the National Junior Honor Society and a host of other accolades that she can explore. Whatever you do, don't put pressure on her to be the next Doogie Howser. That's only going to discourage her and she seems to be doing a fabulous job already. Get her tested if she hasn't been and if she doesn't qualify then forget about it!

Keep up the good work!
Mrs. James