Understanding Reading Comprehension: Some Tips to Help Your Child
The key to improving reading comprehension revolves around three words: before, during, and after. What you talk about with your child before you read, the strategies your child uses to monitor his understanding during reading, and how he recaps and applies what he read afterwards will help him improve his reading his comprehension.
Increase your child’s interest in what she is about is going to read. If the text is about sharks, maybe view a short video on YouTube about sharks. The visual will help your child get her mind ready to understand what she’s going to read. Another strategy is to talk /write /draw about what she already knows about sharks. Ask her what she wants to learn from the reading. Write down what she knows and what she knows on a chart with three columns labeled K – W – L (know, want to know, and learned). Also, preview the text by looking at the title, headlines, subtitles, pictures, and captions to get an idea of what the text will cover. This can help your child narrow down the questions she has about sharks to those that are likely to be discussed in the text. Lastly, write/discuss/talk about what your child predicts will occur in the text. Identify evidence from the text that led to each prediction.
The most important strategy for your child to do during reading is to keep track of what he does and what he doesn’t understand. There are several strategies to help him do this. One is to use post-it notes and write a quick summary of what is on the page. Then put the post-it notes on the pages in the text. Rereading the text to understand as well as reading ahead to clarify previous difficult passages are other strategies. Retelling parts of the story as your child reads out loud can also help him cement what is going on in the text. Discuss what is going on in the text. Connect the main ideas to larger themes in the world, and help your child to sequence and infer what the text says. Ask what the author’s purpose was for writing specific parts, what the author really wants the reader to get out of it. Your child should also continue writing predictions on the prediction started in the “before” stage.
Have your child retell important parts of the text. This will help her understand the sequence of events in the story. She can also write down a time line or story map of what happens. Identification of the problem, characters, setting, climax, and solution are other important elements of the text to discuss. Get creative as well. Have your child act out parts of the text, or create a visual presentation about what she learned or perhaps about a topic that the text caused her to want to explore further. Additionally, now is the time to write down whether the predictions your child wrote or stated in the “during” stage were accurate. Finally, remember K-W-L chart? On the same chart, write down what she learned in the “W” column.
It is important to reread texts not just to increase comprehension but also to increase overall reading fluency. Your child’s reading speed will increase, as will his vocabulary and ability to discover meanings of words from context. The faster and more smoothly he reads, the better his comprehension will be. Don’t be afraid to spend a significant amount of time on a text in order to increase your child’s reading comprehension.