Third grade is an important year for learning. This is the grade-level when many kids will begin to express an interest in reading chapter books…if they haven’t already picked up those thicker books!
For kids who struggle with reading comprehension issues, though, longer books with chapters may be more difficult to follow as the plots become more intricate and the characters exhibit more depth. Kids may read the books easily but fail to pick up on plot developments and the characters’ intentions or feelings. Here’s how to help a third-grader with reading comprehension as they enter the adventures of chapter books!
Read Books with Shorter Chapters
If you know your child has difficulties with reading comprehension, choose chapter books with shorter chapters (teachers may have good suggestions). These books can be a good introduction to longer stories without overwhelming a child.
Encourage kids to read just one chapter at a time, and then discuss that chapter with them. See if they can remember and retell what happened in the story. Ask about the main characters and what they are doing during the chapter.
If parents feel their child has a good understanding of the chapter, then let them continue on to the next chapter.
Create a Comprehension Bookmark
Parents can’t always sit down with kids and quiz them during reading time. And sometimes kids just want to read independently without feeling that parents are constantly testing them. Gaining independence is important for kids, and, as they get older, a child will have to begin to adapt to their learning needs. However, in third grade, kids still need guidance and assistance, and parents will want to ensure kids fully comprehend what they read.
So what’s the solution? Help kids understand that they need to ask questions as they read each chapter. During independent reading time, if they feel lost, they should go back into the story and revisit paragraphs to find answers.
Visual prompts can be VERY helpful for kids who need guidance during independent reading. Make a bookmark with key reading comprehension questions and tips to provide kids with a constant visual reminder. Kelly B. with the blog Teaching Fourth provides examples for these bookmarks.
Make a Graphic Organizer
Many teachers encourage kids to create graphic organizers while reading, but these visual tools can be used for any subject. The site Understood has great examples of reading graphic organizers that can be used to help kids with summarizing, story elements, retelling and more. If your child’s class teacher uses graphic organizers as a learning tool, your child may be familiar with how to create one.
Highlight Key Phrases and Take Notes
For books your child owns (not borrowed books from the library or school), teach children how to highlight key phrases or character reactions. Kids also could make notes in the margins about how they think a character might feel or even make predictions about what may happen in the next chapter. Encouraging kids to make notes or highlight may help them think about the book as they read.
Take an Online Quiz
Your child’s school might provide an account to programs like Accelerated Reader® (aka “AR”) that provide comprehension quizzes for books. If you have access to a program like AR, encourage your child to take the quiz after completing their chapter book. These programs may help parents gauge just how well a child has understood what they read.
At home, Renaissance Learning® (the company behind AR) also provides an AR Bookfinder for parents to look up books that meet their child’s reading level needs. Parents also can see how many quiz points their child can earn for each book; some schools offer prizes when children acquire a certain number of points.
Explain Everyday Habits and Activities
Reading comprehension isn’t just about reading; in fact, Reading Rockets recommends that parents encourage kids to summarize daily actions and events. This builds a habit of thinking about actions that can help kids make sense of stories, too. Talk about your day at the park, discuss a movie or maybe talk about how an event made someone feel.
Use a Reading App
If your child is really struggling with comprehension, using a reading app that helps them develop these skills. Readability provides books for every child’s level and progresses to meet the needs of each child. Stories include colorful illustrations and interactive features that keep readers engaged. An AI tutor provides help when readers stumble on words and provide auditory feedback during lessons. After the story, the tutor also asks comprehension-related questions to gauge understanding. Parents can track their child’s progress on the Parent Dashboard, which provides details about the child’s reading level and the time duration that the app was used each day. Parents can try Readability for free for seven days to test all the features and let their child explore some of the stories.