Children who struggle with reading comprehension also may struggle across subjects, especially as content becomes harder and more abstract. In later elementary grades, children may need to read chapters in social studies and science textbooks to learn and master new concepts.
If a child is struggling to comprehend material, they may fall behind and struggle to gain a full understanding of different lessons. Parents who know their child struggles with reading comprehension may need to guide them in other subjects, too. Here’s how to help kids with comprehension across subjects.
In lower elementary grades, children may learn the basics about the United States. Perhaps they need to understand the symbols of the country or a few basic facts. In later grades, though, students may focus on state history and more involved subjects. They may learn about the pioneers and westward expansion. Some districts also make children memorize states and capitals.
To better understand the social studies/civics expectations at each grade level, parents may want to review the yearly benchmarks on which students will be assessed. Many schools provide this information to parents to help them understand what subject materials their child will learn throughout the year.
Some schools use worksheets to complement lessons, and textbooks could be only available online. It isn’t uncommon for parents to not see textbooks coming home. Parents can talk to their child, though, to discuss what they’re learning. Children may be able to access lessons online to show parents.
In class, parents won’t be able to provide hands-on assistance to their child during social studies lessons. However, parents can empower children with tips and strategies to help them improve their comprehension as they read and review different concepts and materials.
If children need to read a chapter in their textbook, they can:
- Chunk the text. This teaches children to read a little bit of text at a time and review it. Text can be chunked by paragraph, by page or even by chapter. If children need to read a full chapter in a textbook, parents may encourage them to chunk text by paragraph or perhaps by section heading. Children can then make notes about what they learn in each section.
- Re-read the text. Sometimes more detailed concepts and subjects might not make sense after reading the information the first time. If children don’t understand what they read, encourage them to re-read the paragraph or page. Even adults need to do this on occasion.
- Answer the questions at the end of the chapter. Many textbooks have questions at the end of each chapter that encourage children to think about the concepts and what they have read. Sometimes these questions are part of the assignment. If the textbook includes prompts or questions, encourage children to see if they can answer the questions. They may just mentally think about the answers, but this strategy can encourage thoughtful insights and perhaps help children identify any areas that the child failed to grasp.
Science lessons are often hands-on. Children learn science through experiments and other sensory exploration. Some concepts, though, still require the child to read material. Before an experiment, children may need to read more information about what they’re about to learn. Handouts also could focus on more in-depth explanations about the concept behind the experiment.
Science may require children to think abstractly. Some children may struggle to put their words on paper. Some concepts may be harder for children to grasp than others. Parents can encourage these strategies:
- Re-read the questions and text. With science, some children may need to review concepts and materials several times. If children are struggling to grasp a concept, they can re-read the materials and the experiment questions, too. Re-reading may be an important strategy as many questions from experiments may have multiple parts. Children may need to explain steps or processes.
- Organize the material. After reading, students can take notes about the material to summarize it and help them better understand it. Graphic organizers also could help children summarize and organize the material so it’s easier to mentally digest.
- Ask questions. Students also can reach out to the teacher for help. In addition, some subjects may include group discussions. Discussing the material in groups and asking questions also could help facilitate learning and comprehension.
What about Skill and Drill Methods?
Parents may wonder if memorization techniques could help children. This is also known as ‘skill and drill.’ Some lessons are easier to master through rote memorization. For example, learning the capitals of states doesn’t require deeper analysis; the lesson just requires children to understand and learn the capitals of each state.
One of the easiest ways parents can help children with this standard concept is with flashcards. Make a card with the name of the state on one side and the capital on the other. Work with children to help them memorize and learn the capitals. Mix up the cards so that children don’t memorize in order.
Map identification also could be guided with skill and drill techniques. For example, if children need to learn the entire map of the U.S., parents can print out blank maps and encourage children to complete it. This could be a daily habit until children can complete the entire map without error.
Skill and drill techniques also can help children learn sight words and math facts, too. Again, parents can create flashcards and quiz children nightly until they memorize and learn all the words or math facts.
With more detailed concepts, though, skill and drill might not be beneficial. When children need to analyze meanings or provide context for an explanation, children need to focus on their understanding and comprehension of the material. Simple memorization might not help with mastery.
Use a Reading App to Help Children with Comprehension
Children read to learn as they get older. When a child struggles with comprehension, this may impact their mastery of concepts beyond literacy. Parents may look for resources that can help children with reading comprehension.
While reading strategies like re-reading and chunking text could help children better understand material, a reading app also could be used to help children reach reading benchmarks in the area of comprehension. Readability provides guidance with both comprehension and reading fluency.
With Readability, children read books out loud. Readability features a built-in AI tutor that learns to recognize each child’s voice. When children stumble on a word, the tutor will offer help. At the end of each book, the tutor also will ask children questions about what they read; this is how Readability helps measure comprehension.
Parents can follow their child’s reading progress via the Progress Dashboard. This portal shows parents all the child’s reading data, including how many books the child has read, their current reading level, how long they read, etc. Parents can compile this information into a report and email it to the teacher, too.
While Readability can’t provide help to children across all subjects, the program can help children gain proficiency in comprehension to better help them as they read to learn. Parents who are interested in learning more about Readability can sign up for a free seven-day trial period. During this time, children will be able to read stories and use the AI tutor. Sign up today to help your child improve reading comprehension!