Prediction skills are essential for young children learning to read, math, and science. To help children learn these skills, encourage them to look for patterns and make connections in their daily lives. Make it enjoyable by introducing various activities that require the child to use their imagination. When reading aloud, ask questions to encourage them to consider clues and context. Based on the context of a situation, the child will learn to make connections and think critically.
Method 1 Anticipating Events
1. Patterns should be highlighted. Prediction skills rely heavily on pattern recognition. Preschoolers are frequently developing their ability to recognise patterns. You can assist them by pointing out patterns in your own life.
To teach them patterns, you could use cut-out shapes. Alternate shapes to create a basic pattern. For instance, you could arrange a square, a circle, a square, a circle, and a square. “What shape goes next?” inquires the child. You can introduce more advanced patterns with more shapes as they get older.
Experiment with pointing out patterns in nature as well. You could, for example, look for rainbows after it rains.
Recognize cause and effect in everyday situations as well. For example, you could state that if you arrive too late, the store will be closed.
2. Predict everyday events with your friends. Predicting small everyday events is a useful tool for young children to help them find patterns and consider consequences. Before you do the basic events, ask the child questions about what they think might happen.
Ask them what they think a meal will taste like before you eat it. You can ask, “Would a spoonful of honey taste sweet or sour to you?”
You could ask them to forecast the weather. For example, you could say, “Today’s sky is cloudy.” “Do you believe it will rain?”
You can ask them five minutes into their favourite cartoon, “What do you think will happen?”
3. Make use of their prior knowledge. If a child cannot answer a question, ask them to recall the last time something similar happened to them. See if they can make a connection between the previous and current events.
You could, for example, ask them, “What happened the last time you skipped your nap?” They may respond that they were sleepy or that they had become grumpy.
You can also inquire whether they believe the same thing will occur again this time. For instance, you could ask, “Do you think that will happen again?” “How come you say that?”
4. Encourage them to provide explanations for their predictions. You should also follow up your questions with an explanation to help children make concrete connections between past and future events. Inquire if they can identify any clues that support their prediction, or if they can connect a past event to a current one.
“I see you think the sun will set before dinner today,” you might say. “How come you say that?”
Another way to put it is, “Do you think the coin will land on heads?” Why do you believe that?”
Method 2 Playing Prediction Games
1. Determine the contents of a box. Place an object inside a box and close it. Give the box to the child and ask them to guess what’s inside without looking inside. Encourage the child to hold the box, shake it, and listen to it. See if they can guess what’s inside.
This activity lends itself well to the use of small objects. You can fill the box with marbles, coins, beans, or dice. A small ticking watch or a wind-up car could also be useful.
You can make several boxes, each with a different object inside. Request that the child make a list of the differences between each box. Is one more heavy than the other? Do they make a different sound when you shake them? What do they believe is inside each box?
2. In photographs, ask them to imagine what happens next. Images from a magazine, newspaper, or website can be printed or clipped. These could be images of the subject actively engaged in an activity such as driving, eating, or running. Inquire what the child believes will happen next, and have them point out clues in the image that support their prediction.
Show a child an advertisement with a spilled cup of coffee, for example. “What do you think will happen next?” ask them. They may claim that someone needs to clean up the mess or that they require another cup of coffee.
Images for this activity can be found in advertisements and news stories.
3. Allow them to speculate on how objects feel. Collect a few different textures, such as soft, rough, coarse, bumpy, and smooth. Show the child each one. Ask them to describe how they believe it will feel without touching it.
You could, for example, ask them to examine a coconut, stuffed animal, sandpaper, a raincoat, an ice cube, and a brush.
You can ask for each object, “What do you think this will feel like?” If they are unsure, provide them with a few options. You can say something like, “Bumpy? Prickly? Smooth? Cold? Warm?”
4. Pose “what if” scenarios. Prediction relies heavily on imagination. Pose “what if” questions to your child and see if they can predict what might happen to help encourage a healthy imagination. Follow up on these questions with more specific details to get them thinking about different outcomes. You can ask them, “What if I put salt in your tea instead of sugar?” “How would it taste?”
“What if the sun didn’t come up? Is it going to be warm or cold? “Do you prefer the dark or the light?”
“What if everything you came into contact with turned into candy?” What if you accidentally touched a friend?”
“What if we travelled to the moon? “What do you think you’d see there?”
Method 3 Predicting While Reading
1. Take a look at the cover. Choose a new book to read as a family. Ascertain that they have not previously read it. Show them the book’s cover and ask them to tell you what they think it will be about. Inquire as to why they said those things.
You can ask, “What do you think this storey is about based on the cover?”
Continue the question by asking, “Why do you think that?” What indications do you have?”
2. Throughout the storey, pause. Stop reading after a few pages and ask the child what they think will happen. Encourage them to compare their initial prediction to what they already know about the storey.
You can ask, “Is this what you expected to happen?” “What do you think is going to happen now?”
Continue to encourage them to look for clues in both the pictures and the text. You can ask, “Can you point to any clues that indicate that?”
3. After you’ve finished reading, take some time to reflect. When you’ve finished the storey, talk about your predictions as a group. Inquire if the child’s predictions came true. Inviting them to explain why the book ended the way it did is a good idea.
You can ask, “Was this something you predicted would happen?”
If they did correctly predict the ending, you might say, “Well done.” “How did you find out?”
If they didn’t predict the ending, you could ask, “Are there any clues you missed that could have helped you predict the ending?”
4. Make a note of their predictions. If the child is reading chapter books on their own, ask them to write a paragraph or, for younger children, draw a picture after each chapter. Request that they write down their predictions for the next chapter. Encourage them to write down why they believe this will happen.
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