Reading at home with children might be a daily habit for parents to ensure their child gains confidence with reading and learns to enjoy books and stories. While parents of younger children might read stories aloud to them at night, parents of children who are older might encourage their child to take an active part of the nightly reading—children might read aloud to parents.
Reading with children is an ideal time for parents to gain insight into their child’s reading comprehension. If parents are concerned that their child is struggling with reading comprehension, they can do a reading comprehension assessment at home. This doesn’t require a master’s degree in education; in fact, this assessment is simple and only three steps:
- Encourage the child to read aloud
- Midway through the book, as the child to predict what happens next
- At the end of the story, ask the child questions (focus on the w/h questions)
Why Read Aloud?
Encouraging a child to read aloud allows them to take the lead while reading. In addition, parents can listen to their child reading to better understand their fluency, pronunciation, etc. When children read aloud, they also have to anticipate the action of the story and the emotional reactions of characters, too.
Reading aloud can help parents discern if the child is able to process these different directives of the reading process. Are children emoting as they read or do they read text in an inexpressive tone? Are they having difficulty pronouncing words? All these questions can help parents uncover possible reading struggles including concerns related to reading comprehension.
Ask Children to Make Predictions
As children move into upper elementary grade levels, they will be asked to predict what they think will happen next in the story. Typically, authors will include clues about the plot twists of the book, but readers must look for these clues. Not all clues are obvious, though; some require inferencing—or reading between the lines of the story.
Understanding inferences and making predictions for future plot points are both important to comprehension. In higher reading levels, children need to be able to engage in abstract understanding of what they read. If older children can’t seem to infer meaning from the text or assess what might happen next based on what has already happened, they might be struggling with reading comprehension.
While younger children might not be expected to comprehend the abstract details of a story, they still can make a prediction about what will happen next. In fact, asking children to make predictions could help them further develop these critical thinking skills.
Focus on the W/H Questions
Younger children will be expected to answer the basic w/h questions about the books and stories that they read. These questions also should be simple for older children to answer.
The w/h questions are: who, what, where, when, why and how. Ask each of these questions in relation to the book or story. Some books might have multiple questions related to each prompt. For example, “who was the main character?” or “who was the villain?”
If children cannot answer the basic w/h questions of a book or story, this could be indicative of a comprehension struggle. However, a child also might struggle with processing auditory information. Parents could write down questions for children to think about and discuss.
Strategies to Help Children with Reading Comprehension
If a child is struggling with reading comprehension, there are many ways that parents can help them with this literacy skill. However, the best strategies might vary by age or learning style.
Auditory learners might need to listen to the story as they follow along in the book. Listening to an audiobook could help children better understand emotion and the plot. Auditory learners learn best by hearing, and audiobooks provide the auditory feedback these learners might need.
Visual learners could benefit from additional written cues. For example, a reading comprehension bookmark can be used to mark their page and to provide prompts that they need to think about as they read. These bookmarks might include questions related to the plot, characters, etc. Parents can print out comprehension bookmarks online. In addition, graphic organizers can be used to help children organize details of the book to process the information; these organizers are designed like a worksheet with spaces to write details related to theme, characters or other literary elements. Examples of graphic organizers also can be found online.
Children also could benefit from chunking text as they read. Teach children to use a bookmark or a piece of paper to cover up the majority of the page and leave one chunk of text visible. Have them read the chunk and process this information. Chunking text can help children focus their attention on small pieces of information at a time, and this strategy can help aid comprehension.
Ask About Reading Scores and Progress at School
While parents can read with children to better assess their reading proficiency related to comprehension, their child’s teacher might be able to provide more insight about a child’s reading strengths or struggles. School districts might assess every student’s reading abilities regularly; some districts use a program called Star Reading.
This program is timed, and a report is later generated that shows the child’s reading level as well as data related to how they scored in relation to others in their grade level. In addition, some Star Reading reports also show the child’s reading growth over time. Star Reading analyzes the reading ability of the child; they need to be able to decode and understand the text proficiently at the level in which they score.
If parents don’t have access to their child’s reading progress or reading levels, they should reach out to their child’s teacher. Schools typically can provide this data to parents, and understanding a child’s overall reading progress can be beneficial if parents are concerned that their child is struggling. These reports could reveal if a child is far behind grade-level expectations or right on target.
Take a Free Reading Assessment at Home
Parents who are concerned about their child’s reading comprehension also could utilize Readability’s free reading assessment tool to better understand their child’s reading level. This online assessment is simple and takes only one minute for children to complete.
The assessment can be used for children in kindergarten through sixth grade. Parents should select their child’s grade level to begin. The child needs to use a device (computer, tablet or phone) that is equipped with a microphone as the assessment will require the child to read a portion of text aloud. The child will read for about a minute, and Readability will assess the sample and provide parents with a report that shows their child’s reading level as well as tips on how to provide reading help.
Readability’s assessment tool is free to use. Parents also will be provided with the report at no charge. If parents discover that their child is reading below grade level, they also can sign up for a free seven-day trial of Readability to help their child with both decoding skills and reading comprehension. Use Readability’s reading assessment tool today to gain insight about a child’s reading level and comprehension ability.