Nightly reading is almost an ingrained ritual for families; during the school year, most students are expected to read for a specified amount of minutes each day. Although the duration is dependent on age and grade, most experts recommend 20 minutes a day. The simplest solution for many is to clock those reading minutes near bedtime.
Yet, while children may be focused on the pages for their designated time, parents don’t always know if their child comprehends the text. How do parents know if children actually understand what they read in those books?
Here are eight reading comprehension tips that parents can use to help gauge understanding and help children who may struggle with reading comprehension.
Parents can read with children and discuss the story as they read. To work on reading and comprehension, parents can encourage their child to read aloud and then ask “wh” questions during the story. Or parents and children can take turns reading a page and then discuss the story.
Asking questions encourages children to think about what they’ve read. Parents may ask questions after each chapter, each page, or perhaps more frequently if they notice that their child is struggling with comprehension.
Choose Level-Appropriate Books
A child might not understand a book if the vocabulary is too difficult or if the level is more advanced than the child’s reading ability. Always select books that are at a child’s appropriate reading level to ensure that they can read the story fluently and understand the story.
Can parents allow children to read books beyond their level? Some children may read above their grade level, and this allows them to select books that may be a bit more mature. The books parents allow children to read is entirely a personal decision…and one that may differ by household.
Listen & Read
Some children may benefit by following along in the book as it’s narrated, and parents may choose to use audiobooks to help children hear the story as they read it silently and independently.
Parents can try to incorporate audiobooks to see if the auditory resource helps their child to better understand the book. Again, though, parents should still ask comprehension questions about the story.
Use Reading Worksheets and Workbooks
Parents also can order reading workbooks that can be used as an enrichment resource at home. Work with children a few times a week to keep them reading and focused on comprehension-related tasks.
Get Crafty with Comprehension
We are Teachers has many great (and crafty!) ways for parents to help their children with reading comprehension. Author Elizabeth Mulvahill recommends creating a “cootie catcher;” you probably made one of these in elementary school—they feature different ‘predictions’ for your future, but the comprehension version prompts kids to talk about the story.
Mulvahill also included info on how to make a ‘retelling glove;’ on each finger, there is a prompt about the story (children may have to retell certain plot points). Parents can adapt the glove for each book or story…or just create a basic ‘retelling glove.’
She also provides info on how parents can create a beach ball with ‘wh’ questions or craft a ‘yellow brick road’ (every brick is a discussion prompt).
Set the Story to Music
Create a song based on the story! Have children write down the characters and plot points, and create a song for the book. Make it fun and choose your own rhythm! This is a great idea for kids who love music or who play an instrument.
Using an old shoebox, have children craft a scene that depicts a major plot point in the book. Discuss the scene and why it was important. Have children talk about the feelings of the characters as well as what happened next in the book.
Use a Reading App
Readability can be used at home to help children improve reading fluency and comprehension. The app features books that are individualized for each child to ensure that they are reading at the appropriate level. All the stories on Readability feature colorful illustrations and interactive features to keep children engaged and excited to read. A virtual AI tutor recognizes your child’s voice and provides feedback when a child stumbles or has difficulty with pronunciation; the tutor also engages your child to test their understanding of the story. Parents can view their child’s reading progress via the Parent Dashboard; this tool also shows parents how long their child used the app. Want to see how Readability can help your child? Try Readability for free for seven days!