Learning how to pronounce words is only one element of reading. To become a strong reader, children must also understand what they are reading. The ability to extract meaning from text is known as reading comprehension, and it plays a crucial role in your child’s academic success. But unfortunately, many children struggle to develop the reading comprehension skills they need to thrive. If your child is struggling, implement one or more of these elementary reading comprehension strategies to help them reach their full potential:
- Using Background Knowledge
- Reading Between the Lines
- Making Predictions
- Monitoring Comprehension
Using Background Knowledge
Kids need to learn how to extract meaning from text by connecting what they read to their own life experiences.
For example, say your child is preparing to read a book about a famous baseball player. Before they begin reading, ask your child what they already know about baseball. Then, remind your child to use this information to better understand the story they are about to read. If your child is already familiar with common baseball terminology, they can tap into this knowledge to understand the text.
Encourage your child to ask and answer questions about the text before, during, and after reading a story. Some examples of questions include:
- What do I think this story will be about based on the cover, title, and illustrations?
- Why did this character say or do that?
- What caused this event to happen?
- How are these two characters related?
- What was the main idea of this chapter?
- What will happen if…?
- What would I do in this situation?
This exercise will help your child integrate information, remain engaged, summarize what they’ve read, and gain a deeper understanding of the meaning of the text.
Reading Between the Lines
Sometimes, an author will not explicitly provide all of the information that a child needs to understand a character’s motivations, the setting of the story, or the theme of the text. Instead, the author will leave behind clues that your child can use to make inferences.
For example, say the author states that the main character is looking at their dinner plate with a frown on their face. Your child should be able to read between the lines and infer that the main character does not like the food that they have been served for dinner.
Similar to making inferences, making predictions involves using clues from the text to make assumptions. However, making a prediction involves thinking about what will happen next rather than interpreting what has already happened.
Take another look at the example from above. Based on this information, your child may predict that the main character will refuse to eat their dinner. Making predictions like these—no matter how small—will help your child better understand the text.
Kids should work on providing a summary of each story in their own words shortly after they finish reading. This exercise helps kids practice how to recall information, eliminate insignificant information, and condense the main ideas of the story into several short sentences. By summarizing every story they read, kids can drastically improve their reading comprehension skills.
As your child reads, encourage them to paint a mental picture of what is happening in the text. Research has shown that creating mental images of text can help a child process the information they are reading.
Teach them to visualize the characters, locations, and events that occur in the text. The more detailed their visualization is, the better. Not only will visualization improve reading comprehension, but it will also make reading more fun for your child.
Monitoring refers to a child’s ability to recognize when they understand what they are reading and when they don’t. This skill is important because, without it, kids won’t know when they need to resolve problems in order to understand the text.
Your child should be actively checking in with themselves as they read to confirm that they understand the text. If they come across something they don’t understand, they should make another attempt to interpret this text. This may involve using context clues, looking up a word in the dictionary, re-reading a passage, or asking someone for help.
Improve Reading Comprehension Skills With the Readability App
Some children need extra help outside of the classroom in order to become better readers. If your child is struggling with reading comprehension, supplement their classroom instruction with the Readability app at home. Readability is a reading comprehension app that keeps your child engaged by asking questions, listening to their answers, and providing immediate feedback as they read. It’s just like talking to a teacher.
Using the Readability app can help your child improve their critical thinking and reading comprehension skills in no time. Download the app so you can start your free 7-day trial today.