Tips For Helping Kids with Reading Comprehension

Next in our summer series that focuses on the foundation skills kids need for early elementary learning, we’ll be looking at reading comprehension.  This is probably one of the hardest areas for your child to grasp and one that often needs parent involvement.

reading comprehension

Does your child have difficulty remembering or understanding what he/she reads? Is he or she struggling with reading words?  This could stem from the fact that they don’t comprehend them. 

The inability to read comprehensively affects how he or she gains knowledge.  The reality is that this is one activity parents have to devote time to with their kids.  Kids do not learn reading comprehension on their own.

Good readers use strategies to prepare themselves for reading a particular text. 

These strategies include:

  • Making predictions while they are reading.
  • Making connections to what they already know.
  • Determining the meanings of unfamiliar words based on context clues.
  • Interpreting the text: following printed directions, understanding a sequence of events, understanding and interpreting the mood of the story and feelings of the characters.
  • Generalizing how the ideas revealed in the text may apply to future readings (a chronicle of historical and scientific events).

Here are some strategies and tips for parents looking for assistance in helping their kids improve their reading comprehension:

Help them decode words by reading aloud

An awareness of the letters and sounds words make and understanding how they blend together to make words and sentences is called decoding.  When you read you determine what the words are and whether they make sense in a sentence.  The only way to check how your children decode, is to ask them to read aloud. 

This forces them to go slower, which gives them more time to process what they read, hearing the words as well as seeing the words on the page.

Find the right books

It’s important not to set the bar too high.  Generally, your child should recognize 90% of the words in the books they read in order to feel comfortable with the reading process.  Stooping more often will interrupt the flow and will just confuse him or her as they try to focus on the overall meaning of the story. 

Obviously, also pick stories that interest them.  It could be fairies, adventures, cars or Star Wars.  We all prefer to read books about things we are interested in, so let your kids do the same.

Improve their vocabulary skills

Reading comprehension improves when a child understand words in context.  Teach your child from an early age that learning new words is a lifelong experience.  Buy a dictionary and learn to look up unfamiliar words as you read is the best way to approach improving vocabulary.

Interact with the content

Find places to stop, discuss, make comments, give opinions and relate the content with personal experiences.  This “verbal processing” helps your child to remember and think through the themes of the book.

Re-read to build fluency

Rereading familiar books gives your child practice at decoding words quickly. With enough practice, your child should be able to read at a smooth, conversational pace.

Choose different forms of writing

Exposing your child to many different forms of writing widens their reading horizon. Newspapers, magazines, novels, fact books will expose your child to lots or words and let them explore their many interests. 

Think about the multi-media angle

Libraries often have audio book versions of printed books.  Why not take out both and have your child read aloud with the narrator of the audio version?  This will help your child learn to emulate inflection.  Or how about thinking about books that have been made into movies?  Watching the movie first, your child will know and understand the storyline and its characters before tackling the book. 

Most important of all, make time for reading.  The more your child is exposed to reading, the more practice they get at learning to read.  With practice comes reading comprehension.

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