In fourth grade, children are reading chapter books. The expected reading level by the end of fourth grade is the Scholastic Reading Level of S or T, correlating with a Lexile of about 940.
Children are still decoding difficult words. However, the reading journey now focuses on using literacy as a means to gain knowledge and understanding. Students will think deeper about stories and characters, and comprehension starts to become more abstract.
Some children might struggle as they are expected to think beyond the core w/h questions. If you’re wondering how to help your fourth grader with reading comprehension, these 10 tips can help:
- Use visual prompts like a graphic organizer
- Teach children to chunk text
- Re-reading can help children review and understand
- Keep a dictionary on hand
- Use sticky notes to mark pages and write details
- Listen to the story
- Read daily
- Use a reading program or app
Using Visual Prompts to Help with Comprehension
For some children, making notes or creating visual prompts helps them think about the story as they read. Teachers often have children create graphic organizers. These look like charts that include spaces for students to write supporting details about a story.
Graphic organizers can focus on story themes, characters, etc. These simple visual charts help children pull details from the book that help them understand the big picture and the underlying context too. Examples of graphic organizers for fourth graders can be found via the site Fourth Grade Four Teeners.
Reading comprehension bookmarks also can provide students with prompts that they need to answer or think about as they read. Fourth graders can make their own reading comprehension bookmark but parents also can purchase comprehension bookmarks that are designed for a specific grade level.
Teach Children to Chunk Text
Sometimes it’s easier for children to understand what they read when they break a story into sections. This is called chunking.
Students can chunk text by paragraph or maybe by page. The idea is to read a section, think about it and then go over what the section means. This is a very useful strategy for helping children understand concepts in core subjects like science and social studies.
Ms. Jordan Reads explains that parents can help children chunk text by using sticky notes as reading stop signs or encouraging children to cover up the text with a piece of paper.
Re-Read to Promote Understanding
Chunking can be used in correlation with another key strategy: re-reading. If a child is chunking text and they don’t understand what they’ve read, they should re-read it.
It isn’t uncommon for adults to get distracted as they read; they may go back and re-read sections that they didn’t understand or that their mind just glossed over. Re-reading helps children learn to go back and find answers or review as necessary.
Keep a Dictionary on Hand
Sometimes a child might stumble on a word that they’ve never seen before; they might have no idea what it means. That word, though, may be a key to understanding the sentence, section or major idea.
Encourage children to keep a dictionary with them as they read. If they don’t know a word, they can look it up.
Use Sticky Notes as a Bookmark and for Writing Key Ideas
Children who have trouble with comprehension also could benefit from using a sticky note strategy. These notes can help children mark their page, but they also can be used to write down facts, ideas or important details about a chapter.
Parents can choose to buy different colored sticky notes so that children can color-code their notes for each chapter.
Listen to the Story
Hearing a story read aloud isn’t just for younger children. Listening to a story can help older readers better understand a character’s emotions or pick up details that they might miss as they read.
There are many resources for finding audiobooks; in fact, many libraries often let card holders check them out. Visit the local library to find out about available audiobooks; these also could be available via the library’s online portal.
One of the best strategies to help children with reading comprehension is just to encourage them to read every day. When children struggle, they may avoid reading. However, the more a child reads, the more confident they may become in their skills.
Make sure when children are reading independently that they choose books at their appropriate reading level. Books that are too difficult will cause children to struggle. Help them find books that interest them but that also are at the right reading level.
Parents who aren’t sure about their child’s reading level can reach out to their child’s teacher. However, most schools send home reading reports to help parents understand their child’s reading progress and reading level.
Be a Model Reader
If children don’t see parents reading a book for fun, why would they think that reading is enjoyable or understand why they need to read? Parents need to read, too.
When children see parents reading a book, they might feel compelled to read when parents are reading. The family might even schedule a quiet reading time. Perhaps everyone gathers in the living room to read.
According to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey, the average American reads 12 books in a year. Parents don’t have to read long books; they may even choose graphic novels. Reading is reading.
For parents who haven’t opened a book in a while, take children to the library and hunt for books together. Parents may soon remember a favorite author or spot a book that sparks interest.
Encourage Children to Write
Writing could help children with reading. Encourage children to write stories or just encourage them to keep a journal.
Even better? Parents can encourage children to keep a reading journal. Have them write about the books they read and what they like or didn’t like. At the end of the school year, they can look back on all the books they read.
Use a Reading App that Helps with Comprehension
Parents also could use a reading app or program that helps their child with reading comprehension. Readability includes a built-in AI tutor that learns each child’s voice.
Lessons are read aloud in Readability, and at the end of each story, the tutor asks the child questions to test their knowledge and comprehension. If a child doesn’t answer the question correctly, though, the tutor will show the passage from the book that provides clues (the tutor will read the passage, too). Then the child can try to answer the question again.
Readability also helps children expand their vocabulary skills. Each story includes a list of vocabulary words, and children also can tap any word in the story to hear its meaning or hear it used in a sentence. Children can review their vocabulary words again and again.
Readability also gives children the option of hearing a story. The Storytime feature lets children listen to their favorite Readability stories.
Parents who are wondering how to help their fourth grader with reading can explore Readability for free to better understand if it’s a fit for their child. Readability offers a free seven-day trial that provides children with access to all the program’s features—including the AI tutor. Sign up for a free trial today!