The Most Effective Reading Strategies for First Graders

May 30, 2023

Effective Reading Strategies

First graders are in the early stages of the reading journey. At this grade level, reading fluency could vary greatly from student to student. Some children might be struggling with phonics and might be reading below grade level expectations while others could be precocious readers and are delving into smaller chapter books.

Many children might be right where they need to be academically in literacy, but parents might need to continue to work with them at home to ensure they keep moving forward in their reading journey. What are the most effective reading strategies for first graders? According to Reading Rockets, there are five simple strategies that can help first graders and many young readers gain confidence and read more proficiently.

Effective Reading Strategies

Effective Reading Strategies for First Graders

How can parents help their first grader read more fluently and understand what they read, too? These five strategies are important to guiding the reading journey:

  • Visualizing
  • Predicting
  • Summarizing
  • Making Connections
  • Asking Questions

Visualizing encourages children to see the action of the story as it takes place. When we read, the book and story often plays out like a mini movie in the mind. This is visualizing. Children also could draw pictures to show how they understand the story. Seeing a picture and visualizing the action can help children process what they read.

Predicting requires children to think ahead. They need to be able to make an educated guess using clues from the story about what might happen next. This is how children learn to make predictions.

Summarizing focuses on children retelling the story briefly. They should be able to answer the w/h questions: who, what, where, when, why and how.

Making connections means linking information about characters, plot or other elements of the story together to facilitate understanding. This also is called ‘inferencing’ and it’s a more abstract element to comprehension. This skill might develop for readers a bit later, but first graders might have the ability to make connections from what they read.

Asking questions is an important part of reading. Children should ask questions about the book and story as they read and try to answer those questions as they read further into the plot and story.

All five of these strategies focus on reading comprehension. These strategies are used to help children better assimilate information from the story and facilitate meaning.

Effective Reading Strategies

What are Some Reading Strategies to Help Kids with Comprehension and Phonics?

While there are five key strategies that help children with reading comprehension, not all readers struggle with this skill. Some children might struggle with decoding words and identifying sound blends and patterns. Other students struggle with both reading skills; these children might struggle to sound out words and, therefore, lose the meaning of the sentence or story. What are some reading strategies to help children with comprehension and phonics?

Children who struggle with phonics might struggle with comprehension only because they cannot fluently read the words that make up the sentence, the paragraph and the chapter or book. Thus, phonics can play a crucial role in reading proficiently.

Parents will need to address the child’s phonics struggles first. Children need to learn to decode words and master blends and letter patterns, too. There are many specific reading programs that focus on phonics skills and ‘the science of reading.’ Some children could be diagnosed with dyslexia, and parents might search for reading programs that are specifically designed to meet the learning needs of children who have been diagnosed with this learning disorder. 

For children who are behind their peers in phonics proficiency and decoding skills, parents could utilize game-based apps that help children practice sounds, blends and patterns. Both Google Play and the App Store offer numerous apps focused on phonics lessons. While many of these apps are free, some might offer in-app purchases; parents can disable this option via their device to ensure they don’t accrue any unwanted charges within a game.

Parents also can reach out to teachers for advice on how to best help children who are struggling with phonics skills and decoding. Teachers might be able to recommend specific resources or websites. Schools or school districts might purchase subscriptions to certain programs that children can access at home, too.

What are the Best Reading Strategies for Struggling Readers?

Children who struggle with reading especially in first grade can use many different strategies to help them feel more confident and read fluently. Again, visualizing, predicting, summarizing, asking questions and inferencing all can help children who struggle with reading comprehension.

Visual prompts also could be beneficial for children who need help with reading comprehension. Parents can encourage children to create reading comprehension bookmarks that include prompts that remind them to focus on those crucial w/h questions. In addition, parents can download graphic organizer worksheets that help children organize information from the story into chunked sections to improve understanding. Some websites offer free graphic organizers that parents can print out at home; these worksheets focus on different elements of reading like themes, characters, etc.

Some children learn best through listening; these auditory learners could benefit from listening to an audiobook as they follow along. Listening to a story can help children identify a character’s emotions and hear good read aloud cadence. Some children might pick up details they missed when they read the story independently.

Use a Reading App

A comprehensive reading app that focuses on a lesson-based approach to literacy should guide children with both reading comprehension and reading fluency. Readability is designed for children in kindergarten through sixth grade. This reading program uses a built-in AI tutor to guide reading lessons; the AI tutor learns each child’s voice.

Children begin lessons on Readability at one reading level below their current reading level; this ensures that children begin the program feeling confident. Books are read aloud and this is how the tutor learns the child’s voice; the AI tutor also can discern if the child is struggling to pronounce or word and needs help. Like a real in-person tutor, the AI tutor provides help, encouragement and feedback.

The tutor also is responsible for measuring reading progress. As the child reads, the tutor measures reading fluency (words read per minute). At the end of each book, the tutor also assesses the child’s reading comprehension via an end-of-book quiz.

Children who answer a comprehension quiz question incorrectly can learn how to use strategies to gain understanding. If the child misses a question, the tutor shows the child a section from the book with clues that help them to answer the question. The tutor also reads the section aloud. This is how the program teaches children to reread sections of the book to help them better understand what they read.

Through Readability, children have access to a variety of fiction and nonfiction books at each reading level. Children also could listen to these books read aloud via a feature in the program called Storytime. Every book in the library also includes a list of vocabulary words that children need to master. Children also can tap any word in the book to hear the word used in a sentence or hear the definition of the word.

Parents can follow their child’s reading progress via a private parent portal via the program. This portal shows the child’s reading level, reading comprehension mastery, reading fluency and how long the child used the program. Parents can collate this information into a report that can be emailed directly to the child’s teacher.

Parents who are interested in exploring Readability to help their child learn effective reading strategies can sign up for a free seven-day trial period today!