Teaching Children to Read: Reading Comprehension Tips

As one of the ‘Five Pillars’ of learning to read (you can learn more these in our article here), reading comprehension is one of the fundamental elements of reading instruction. In today’s post, we’re going to delve into the world of reading comprehension and examine a plethora of tips that you can use to boost your child’s ability where reading comprehension is concerned. Before we get stuck in, however, let’s take a look at what exactly reading comprehension is.

In short, reading comprehension is related to a child’s ability to not only read but also their understanding of what they are reading. As a parent, you play a critical role in helping to develop your child’s reading comprehension ability and the rate at which they progress. So, if you want to give your child, the best possible follow the tips below and make learning simultaneously fun and productive!

How To Improve Your Child’s Reading Comprehension at Home

1. Start Early

Don’t be afraid to begin early. Contrary to popular belief, starting early won’t have any detrimental effects on your child’s ability to learn to read; in fact, it will have quite the opposite effect. Before your child is able to read English fluently, you can start developing early reading comprehension skills through daily reading sessions at home. Who reading with your child, always engage with them and ask them questions as you make your way through the book. Ask them why a certain character may have done something (“Why did the mouse hide from the cat?”) or why they feel a certain way (“How do you think Daisy feels now?”). This will make your child aware that the words in the book have and convey meaning(s), and that it is imperative that they sit and listen carefully so they can understand.

2. Close Attention While Reading

Following on from the point above, always encourage your child to pay close attention when you’re reading to them. To do this, you can ask them literal comprehension questions, i.e. questions that require answers that can be found within the text. For example, “What did Michael do when he got lost in the wilderness?”. This will encourage close attention to the story, and the understanding that answers to your questions can be found in the text.

3. Inferential Comprehension Questions

Once your child becomes adept at answering literal questions, you can proceed to ask inferential questions. Although this may seem like a daunting phrase (most adults don’t know what it means!) and it is a little trickier for children, it has a myriad of benefits where reading comprehension skills are concerned. Inferential questions require answers that are less obvious, and, therefore, encourage your child(ren) to make their own conclusions from what has been read to them or what they have read. For example, “Why do you think the lizard was afraid of water?” Or “How do you think Emma felt when she finally found her family?”. It requires your child to think a little more about how they answer and what answer they should give. 

4. Is Your Child Asking Questions?

Children are naturally curious and will often ask questions if they don’t understand something – and it is no different where reading comprehension is concerned. A child who has reading comprehension skills will be aware of whether or not they understand what they are reading (or are being read). When reading to your child or listening to them read, look to see whether they appear perplexed or disengaged. If they are, encourage them to ask questions if they don’t understand. This will not only give them to confidence to ask questions when stuck, but also gives you the opportunity to explain parts they may not understand.

5. Real-life is Always Relevant

Is your child able to make associations between things they’ve read and what they have already experienced or already know? Always encourage them to relate things they have read to experiences and knowledge they may already have. Your child may even make connections between the book they are currently reading and books they have read in the past. Ask them if anything in the book is something they’ve done in their life. 

6. Predictions

One way to make your child think about the book they’re reading is to periodically ask them to stop reading and predict what will happen next in the story. If a child is reading for meaning, they will often take what they have previously read and have their own thoughts, ideas and theories on what might happen next; they may even have predicted the ending of the book too!

7. Drawing 

Once your child has finished reading a book, ask them to draw a picture or series of pictures depicting the characters and what happened in the story. Do this with books that have little or no illustrations as this will encourage your child to be creative and use their imagination to ‘retell’ the story in picture form. 

Thank you for taking the time to read our blog; we really appreciate your time and hope you found this article informative and helpful. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!