Reading comprehension instruction is often taught and supported by your child’s teacher. Students with learning disabilities can especially benefit from this reading guidance. However, the school closures because of the coronavirus outbreak have left many students without proper reading instruction and guidance. This leaves parents to figure out how to teach reading comprehension to readers with learning disabilities.
Instead of waiting until schools open, parents can continue to support their child’s reading progress and improvements at home. Although parents might not be able to replicate a teacher’s exact strategies, there are some simple activities and strategies they can use at home to help their children learn and improve their reading comprehension.
What is reading comprehension?
Reading comprehension is basically being able to read a text and understanding what the author is trying to say. Reading comprehension is a vital skill to learn for successful reading progress. Once your child has mastered reading comprehension they make the switch from “learning to read” to “reading to learn”.
Students with learning disabilities often struggle with reading comprehension. They are likely struggling with skills that help with reading comprehension such as phonemic awareness or vocabulary. But students with learning disabilities often are able to catch up with their peers by practicing and utilizing strategies to help them.
What are the six reading comprehension strategies?
Teachers often rely on these six reading comprehension strategies to teach students. They often use all or a combination of these strategies to promote progress with reading comprehension:
- Make connections – Before even reading a text, teachers often try to access students’ prior knowledge about the topic. You can do the same thing with your child before you read a book together. This helps to get them thinking about the topic already and helps build an understanding of what they are about to read.
- Think about thinking – As your child is reading, they might find areas that they struggle with. Give them some time to think about what exactly is preventing them from reading successfully. Is it the vocabulary? Is it the sentences? This can help them target the areas they need to work on.
- Create visuals – Using visuals to aid with reading comprehension is particularly helpful for children with learning disabilities. This gives them an alternative way to view the information. Creating a visual air such as graphs or mindmaps can help them organize their thoughts easier.
- Ask questions – Asking questions about reading materials and trying to find the answers is a great way to help your child learn to understand what the text is trying to tell them. They should ask questions before, during, and after reading. This simple strategy ends up utilizing other reading strategies like “make connections”.
- Recognize story structure – Understanding story structure can help your child learn to organize ideas within a text. If they know what entails in the beginning, middle, and end of a story they can make predictions and access prior knowledge they have from other stories.
- Summarize – When your child is able to understand story structure, they are more likely to be able to identify main ideas in the text. Identifying main ideas is the key to successfully summarizing texts and shows a greater comprehension of the text.
How do I teach my child reading comprehension?
Once you learn the six reading comprehension strategies, you can start creating activities that support and use these strategies. Here are some ways you can teach your child reading comprehension using the six strategies:
- Create storyboards – After or while reading a story, your child can create storyboards of the text. This is basically drawing scenes of what they are reading. This utilizes both the creating visuals and recognizing story structure strategies. Your child is creating visual aids of the text as well as recognizing story structures as they organize the pictures.
- Have a book game night– When your children are done reading a book or even a series, you can create a family game night based on the book. You can have everyone come up with questions about the book and create a trivia night.
- Use reading apps – Using a reading app like Readability can help improve their reading comprehension and still be fun and interactive. Readability is especially beneficial for young readers with a learning disability because it acts as a private reading tutor. Using A.I. and speech-recognition technology, Readability listens to your child read and gives them instant feedback and error correction. You can also have the app read the story to your child as they follow along.
- Host a movie night – Choose a book or series to read as a family that has also been turned into a movie. Then when everyone is done reading, you can host a family movie night. Your child will be motivated to read and this can also help them visualize what they have read.
- Rewrite some stories – When your child is done reading the book they are reading, you can help them get creative and actually rewrite the story. This helps them to summarize but also to recognize story structures as they create their own plots to the story.
Reading comprehension is the key to academic success later on. It is the way your child not only learns concepts but also how they understand instructions on their assignments. Children with learning disabilities may struggle with reading comprehension. But with dedication and practice, they can master the skill by using tools such as Readability which you can access with a free trial. Utilizing the right tools and strategies can help your child learn to read successfully at home and in school.