How to Improve Reading Comprehension at Home
Have you ever read something and when you reached the end, you had no idea what you’d just read? Yep, me too! We were not comprehending what we were reading. In other words, we were just reading the words but not creating meaning from them. If this happens to adults, you know young readers experience the same thing. Comprehension is simply the act of understanding what you are reading. That sounds easy, but in reality, comprehending text takes intentional thought and practice using proven strategies to become a successful reader.
As parents, we want our children to have strong reading skills so they can become lifelong learners and readers. Teachers at all levels spend hours upon hours teaching children comprehension strategies so they can develop self-monitoring skills for their own reading success. Obviously, additional practice and attention to reading at home will produce greater gains in reading comprehension.
Try one or more of these comprehension strategies or practices while reading WITH or TO your child at home.
- Promote reading in your family by setting aside time for it every day that you possibly can! Reading to your child exposes him to a rich vocabulary, which in turn boosts reading comprehension. Read beside your child so he sees you model reading.
- Allow for choice. Let your child read what she wants to read: graphic novels, comic books, poetry, nonfiction, fiction or magazines. Magazines are engaging, as the articles are high-interest, short and concise. Take your child to the library and let her select her own books—with topics she is interested in, passionate about or curious about!
- Talk, talk, talk and talk some more about what is being read. Ask questions during and at the end of a reading. Ask your child to make inferences about what might happen throughout the book. Connect the book to his own experiences or other books he has read.
- Encourage your child to read out loud. The act of reading out loud slows down the reader, strengthens fluency and helps the reader form mental pictures or what is sometimes called a mind movie.
- Model for your child what to do when comprehension breaks down. Stop and reread, summarize your reading or explain how you create images in your head. Think aloud for your child so she can learn to do the same thing. Teaching kids to identify when they are not gathering meaning from the text is crucial.
- Organize a book club for your child and a few friends. Reading a common text and engaging in meaningful discussion will deepen understanding of what is being read.
By helping children comprehend at a young age, we are preparing them to deeply understand what they are reading and are empowering them to be brilliantly curious about the world around them. They will have the ability to find answers to questions they have, discover the love of lifelong reading and possess the cognitive ability to continue to learn throughout life.
Angela Rosheim is a library media specialist in the Liberty Public School District and the mother of three.