How to Help a Child Struggling with Reading Comprehension

September 9, 2020

How to Help a Child Struggling with Reading Comprehension

The pivot to virtual learning may be a greater struggle for working parents, but even those with flexible schedules or who stay at home full time will face challenges. Children who normally breeze through school might adapt seamlessly to the virtual model, but children with learning struggles or those who have fallen behind may need intervention that may not be available during e-learning. Reading is fundamental for successfully learning other core subjects, which means that reading struggles could impact a child’s education beyond just the area of language arts. Here’s how to help a child struggling with reading comprehension when schools are closed to in-person learning during the pandemic.

Read Everyday

Most teachers mandate daily reading; while the point of daily reading is to ensure that children develop a habit, for some kids, pushing a required reading time makes them feel like reading is just homework.

Yes, children should read daily…or regularly. However, the enjoyment of reading should be a priority, too. If a child reads a book for an hour, this can be counted towards weekly (or daily) reading minutes. Struggling readers may read less in 20 minutes, and they may need more time to process information and finish a chapter. Parents know their child best; adopt reading habits that make sense for the individual.

Read to a Child

A child that reads below grade level might not have the literacy skills to read the same books their peers are enjoying. Encourage children to read level-appropriate books to meet reading requirements for school, but parents also can adopt read-aloud story time.

At night, read to your child. Read them a book they want to read but, perhaps, can’t read independently. This is yet another way to ensure that children view reading as an adventure…and not as an assignment or chore.

Ask Questions

When reading to children, ask questions about the story. Comprehension is a vital part of literacy; children need to understand what they read and what is read to them. Ask the ‘wh’ questions related to plot:

  • Who? This delves into the main characters of the story. Make sure children know the names and some detail about all the main characters.
  • What? Ask questions about the plot of the story. Children should be able to explain what is happening, and what the characters are doing.
  • Where? The setting of the story is important to its context. Find out if children know where the story (and important plot moments) are happening.
  • When? Make sure children know the time period of the story. ‘When’ can refer to a time of day, a period in history or a particular month of the year.
  • How? While not a ‘wh’ question, the ‘how’ of the story is important, too. How questions can be related to feelings, thoughts and intentions. How does the character feel? How does a particular plot point affect the character or the action of the book?

Create a Graphic Organizer

Your child is probably already familiar with graphic organizers, as many schools incorporate them into their reading curriculum. What’s a graphic organizer? It’s a visual way for kids to grasp how smaller ideas make up the bigger picture.

For stories, a graphic organizer can include important plot points of the story as well as details about the character. Some organizers focus on breaking down story elements. Others are organized around themes and characters. The site Understood allows users to download different types of graphic organizers. Use the organizers to help children better comprehend what they have read and to gain an understanding of what they have learned.

How to Help a Child Struggling with Reading Comprehension

Play Comprehension Games

Teachers will come up with so many out-of-the-box ways to help children better understand concepts and stories. Educational games are a great way to make literacy lessons a bit more fun…and feel a lot less stressful to kids who struggle. Parents also can use reading activities that involve sensory experiences to help children immerse in the story. Games and activities help kids tackle comprehension in a fun way.

Create a dice labeled with ‘wh’ questions; children can roll the dice and then retell a portion of the story or explain about the characters. Teachers Pay Teachers offers many other examples of dice games to help with comprehension.

The 95% Group also posted a similar game; however, instead of labeling a dice, you write different comprehension questions on a section of a beach ball. This is a great game to play in the summer at the pool. Of course, a beach ball is also safe to toss around the house for a fun indoor reading game.

Use a Reading App at Home

If your child is really struggling to read at grade-level and basic intervention methods aren’t making an impact on their progress, a reading app like Readability may be another option. Readability offers leveled instruction to meet the needs of struggling readers through sixth grade. Stories are interactive and immersive, and lessons are never boring. Readability features a built-in AI tutor that provides auditory feedback during lessons; if a child struggles with pronunciation, the tutor will help correct the error. The reading tutor also asks questions to gauge a child’s understanding of the story.

Results are important; parents should feel confident that a program will help ease a child’s literacy struggles so that they can meet the benchmark standards for their grade-level. The Parent Dashboard provides parents with details on their child’s progress and also shows how long the child utilized the program each day.

Want to see if Readability is right for your child? Sign up for a free seven-day trial today!