What Is Reading Comprehension?

May 26, 2020

What Is Reading Comprehension?

Your child’s teacher may have told you that your child struggles with reading comprehension. What is reading comprehension? This refers to the ability to understand what we read, and comprehension impacts how we relate to a story and its characters.

Reading comprehension is how we interpret a story and understand its meaning. When a child has a mastery of the comprehension element of reading, then all the ‘wh’ questions can be answered. The who, what, when, where, why (and how) questions all tie into character motivations and the story’s unique plot twists.

Why is Reading Comprehension So Important?

Some parents may find that their child can decode with ease. They can read anything, so they must have a wonderful grasp of reading, right? Yes, and no. We have to master all the components of reading before we truly become proficient. Decoding and understanding the sounds of words is essential to reading.

Yet, if a child reads a page but cannot describe what happened or why then comprehension could be an issue. Or maybe the child just became distracted and wasn’t fully engrossed.

How would a parent know if reading comprehension is a struggle? Reading with your child can help you to better gauge their understanding of a story. Ask questions throughout the story and encourage your child to try to explain the actions and feelings of a character. The more questions you ask, the better you can ascertain your child’s mastery of reading comprehension.

What Is Reading Comprehension?

How Can Parents Improve Their Child’s Reading Comprehension?

If you discover that your child is struggling to understand a story, there are a few ways to help boost reading comprehension. However, if your child is really struggling, you may wish to facilitate a dialogue with your child’s teacher. 

Additional support may be available in the classroom setting, or your child’s teacher may have unique resources to send home for enrichment. Open communication between parents and educators is essential because it really does take a village to raise a child.

What can parents do at home to help children who struggle with comprehension? The best advice is to read with a child and ask them questions. Parents also can utilize reading apps to help provide additional support at home; Readability features integrated AI technology that assists children throughout their reading journey. Stories are leveled to fit each child’s individual needs and to ensure that text is neither too difficult nor too easy.

What More Can Parents Do To Boost Reading Comprehension?

The best ways that parents can help boost a child’s reading comprehension is by reading with a child, asking questions during storytime, using enrichment materials from school, or downloading a reading app for additional instruction. Special reading programs also may be available during class instruction.

Yet, reading is so much more than just decoding and interpreting words. Reading opens up new worlds and experiences. Reading enriches our minds. The act of reading should be fun! 

A great way for parents to ensure that all reading is enjoyable is to help a child embrace the adventure. While educational tools are essential to boost reading comprehension, parents can certainly think outside the box to create a remarkable and wonderful reading environment for their children.

Instead of sitting at a table, on a bed or the couch, take the reading adventure elsewhere. Here are outdoor reading spaces to bring stories to life:

  • In your backyard by a tree
  • In the garden (for fairytale adventures!)
  • Under the stars with a flashlight (for stories related to space and the universe)
  • By a campfire or a fireplace (for scary stories!)

Where we read may help us visualize the setting and backdrop for the stories. A unique environment also may help children relate more to characters or to the plot. Sometimes reading in a new space also helps reset the mind and helps make reading feel not so much like homework.

What Is Reading Comprehension?

Take a Story Field Trip

When you’re reading a story or book with your child, consider taking a reading field trip related to the adventure. Every book has unique and fun adventures, and many can be safely recreated to help step into the minds of the characters.

In “From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler,” the characters ran away from home to live (for a brief time) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Those living near the Big Apple can pay the museum a visit to retrace some of the adventures of the book.  Not a New Yorker? Take kids to your city’s art museum or any museum. Talk about the book, too! Find a fun or unique plot point and create a related field trip for your child. If the book takes place in outer space, consider visiting a science museum or planetarium.

Reading comprehension is essential for a child to become fully proficient in reading. Decoding may help children identify individual words and read simple sentences, but comprehension is necessary to fully understand the story and a character’s motivations. 

Help children at home with enrichment activities, reading apps, and by reading together and discussing the book. Take field trips to help children develop a deeper appreciation for the story by experiencing pivotal plot elements and exploring paths similar to the characters.

If your child needs additional instruction and enrichment to help boost reading comprehension, download Readability to see if the app works for your child’s needs. Parents can sign up for a free 7-day trial to test drive this unique program!