10 Effective Strategies to Improve Reading Comprehension for Kids
Are you looking for ways to improve reading comprehension for your child?
Here are 10 effective strategies to help you build the skills needed for reading comprehension!
Apart from the strategies, in this post, we will also discuss why it is essential to build the skills needed for reading comprehension even before a child learns to read.
So let’s get rolling!
What is Reading Comprehension?
When kids first learn to read, they learn about letter names, letter sounds, and their relationships. They then, move on to sounding out letters in words and blending them to decode words. But it doesn’t stop here, as kids eventually have to:
- Master the art of extracting meaning from text.
- Get skilled in understanding and interpreting the text efficiently.
- Learn how to make connections between what is read and what they already know.
This ability to extract meaning, understand and interpret the text efficiently and make connections between what is read and real-life is called reading comprehension.
And as we all know, reading comprehension is ‘the ultimate goal of learning to read!’
Importance of Building Skills Needed for Reading Comprehension Before Your Child Learns to Read:
Although it is logical to think that reading comprehension comes only after kids learn to read, to have the motivation to learn to read, kids, should first develop the knowledge needed for reading comprehension.
Imagine your child can decode this sentence–The cat jumps on the mat’ but has no clue what it means.
Do you think your child will have the motivation to continue reading?
On the contrary, imagine how rewarding the experience would be if your child can extract the meaning from the sentence and visualize a cat jumping on a mat!
Don’t you think your child would want to continue reading just to figure out what the silly cat does next?
Most certainly, yes!
So having a good understanding of basic words in the spoken language (English) even before children can start reading is foundational.
Because it is what will give them the motivation and confidence needed to continue to decode words instead of feeling lost and frustrated.
10 Effective Strategies to Improve Reading Comprehension for Kids:
As I promised at the beginning of this blog post, here are 10 strategies to help you build the skills needed for reading comprehension before your child learns to read as well as continue to build the skills needed to improve reading comprehension throughout your child’s reading journey.
These strategies apart from significantly improving your child’s ability to interpret the text will also help make your child’s reading experience fun and enjoyable!
- Have engaging conversations
- Engage your child in a dialogue
- Re-read familiar books
- Do book-related activities
- Build vocabulary
- Build reading fluency
- Use picture comprehension
- Build background knowledge
- Create mind movies
1. HAVE ENGAGING CONVERSATIONS:
Studies show that engaging parent-child conversation apart from enhancing language development can build comprehension skills.
So starting early, get into the habit of talking about anything and everything in your child’s environment.
Here are a couple of things that you can do:
- Point to things in your child’s environment and name them.
- Talk about your child’s day.
- Describe what you do together.
- Talk about your day at work.
- Most importantly, describe your feelings and emotions as this will help your child understand the inner world–how a person feels when a particular event happens.
By the way, if English is not the primary language you speak at home, do not hesitate to use English words along with your native language to describe your child’s environment.
Because research shows that far from confusing the child, using a second language at home can boost the child’s language development and cognitive skills.
If you want to learn how using a second language can benefit your child, check out this post Second Language Boosts Cognitive Skills in Babies.
2. ENGAGE YOUR CHILD IN A DIALOGUE:
Reading aloud to kids come with its own benefits but when you engage kids in a conversation about what is being read, you triple the benefits.
Here are some things that you can do while reading to improve reading comprehension:
b. Add more information to what you read.
c. Ask who, what, why, when, which, where, how type of questions.
d. Encourage your child to make guesses and predictions.
e. Let your child come up with a creative ending.
f. Ask your child’s opinion about the story.
For more information on how to read, so you can improve reading comprehension as well as other literacy and cognitive skills, check out my blog post The Dialogic Reading: An Effective Way to Read Aloud to Kids.
“I want to read Gruffalo, today!”
“Again…..? but we read that book only last night can we read a different book now?”
If this conversation sounds familiar, you are not alone!
I have had those conversations numerous times and I’m sure there are many parents around the world who have had them as well.
It can indeed be rewarding and exciting to see our children enjoy the story. But tell me honestly, don’t we sometimes feel frustrated to read the same book over and over again?
But as boring and frustrating as it might seem, it is important to remind ourselves during those times that children learn through repetition.
A study conducted by the Center for Early Literacy Learning suggests that reading a book at least four times over the course of a few days helps children understand the story better and on a deeper level.
So to sum up!
The next time your child asks you to read a book over and over again, simply don’t hesitate to read the book!
Just get creative and playful so you can make the reading experience new and interesting!
4. DO BOOK-RELATED ACTIVITIES:
An interesting idea to increase understanding and make reading more relatable is to do fun hands-on crafts or activities related to the books you read.
If you read The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, you can do a caterpillar-themed craft or activity. Here are some suggestions:
- Do a caterpillar craft using construction papers.
- Let your child draw pictures of things that the hungry caterpillar eats on the paper caterpillar.
- Learn the days of the week song and sing the song as your child punches holes for each day of the week on the paper caterpillar.
For more ideas on fun activities based on children’s books, check out Book Activities by Growing Book by Book.
5. BUILD VOCABULARY:
A rich vocabulary can make the reading journey interesting and exciting and it is the key to improve reading comprehension.
So don’t forget to praise your child when he or she learns a new word and make a big fuss when your child uses it in a sentence correctly.
If your child is older, maintaining a ‘Book of Words’ can make learning new words interesting!
So in your child’s personalized ‘My Book of Words’, encourage your child to write down unfamiliar words as he or she reads a book.
You can then help your child to:
- Learn how to use a dictionary to look up the meaning.
- Construct sentences using the word.
- Use the word in everyday conversation.
For more ideas on how to enhance your child’s vocabulary, check out my blog post 12 Killer Ways to Build English Vocabulary for Kids.
6. BUILD READING FLUENCY:
When kids read quickly and fluently, they no longer have to worry about decoding words, they can instead focus on comprehending the text.
If you feel that your child takes a lot of time to decode words, an easy way to get your child to read quickly and smoothly is to reread familiar books that are simple and interesting.
Because the more your child practices decoding words quickly, the more fluent your child will get. And this can lead to better reading comprehension!
By the way, if you are supporting your child to read at home, here is something that you can do!
Read my blog post Teach Your Child to Read Using Phonics: The Ultimate 7-Step Guide for step-by-step instructions and all the necessary resources that you might need to help your child read and spell easily!
If you are looking for a kid’s reading program, I welcome you to join our LURN Phonics Kid’s Reading Program which is a step-by-step parent-led program that is designed to help your child read and spell fluently and efficiently!
To take up this program, you do not need any prior phonics knowledge or teaching experience!
Everything is so simplified for you that all you need is a playful attitude and the enthusiasm to set aside 10-15 minutes a day to teach your child to read!
The best part is, our reading program is multisensorial and fun-based so no more tears while learning to read but lots of fun and play!
7. USE PICTURE COMPREHENSION:
Even if kids can successfully decode words to read, if they have difficulty understanding the text, it can lead to a lot of disappointment and frustration.
Having said that, just imagine the plight of kids who are struggling readers!
For these kids, decoding words itself is a challenge, let alone trying to make sense of what they have struggled to decode.
No wonder many struggling readers find the whole ‘learning to read’ experience overwhelming and annoying!
So for these kids picture comprehension can be the answer!
So instead of worrying about decoding the text, these kids can instead focus on developing the skills needed to extract meaning simply by looking at the picture.
Below are some things that you can do to build comprehension if your child is a struggling reader:
- Ask simple who, what, where, when, why, and how types of questions to encourage your child to decipher the meaning of the picture.
- You can encourage your child to construct simple sentences that best describe the picture.
- You can ask your child to tell a story using the picture.
Apart from these simple things, you can also use picture books!
Check out the Top 100 Children’s picture books of all-time by Scottsdale Public Library for popular picture books that you can read to your child.
8. BUILD BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE:
Knowledge and reading comprehension are interconnected!
When kids read on a topic that they are familiar with, chances are, they can understand and remember the text better.
This is because the background knowledge they have on the topic acts as a scaffolding on which more knowledge can be built.
Check out this post Building Background Knowledge by Reading Rockets to learn how you can enhance your child’s prior knowledge about a particular topic.
If your child is older, you can encourage your child to maintain ‘My Book of Questions!’ which is nothing but a personalized book in which your child can write down questions that he or she might have while reading.
You can then help your child find answers to those questions as well as research on that topic to gather more information.
Summarizing the main points not only ensures understanding but also improves reading comprehension.
So get into the habit of recapping the text regularly as it would help your child to:
- Determine what is important and what is not.
- Ignore irrelevant information and instead focus only on keywords and phrases.
- Learn how to reduce a large text for concise understanding.
- Understand text in a more meaningful way.
- Remember and relate to the text better.
Here are a couple of tips to help your child learn to summarize effectively:
- All stories have a beginning, middle, and end.
- Ask who, what, where, when, why, and how types of questions to understand the text better.
- Tell only the most important part.
- Tell in your own words.
So the next time you read a book to your child, remember to sum up the main points and encourage your child to do the same in his or her own words.
10. CREATE MIND MOVIES:
Research indicates that when ‘kids can picture it, they can understand it.’
So the next time you read a book to your child encourage your child to visualize the characters and events.
Be dramatic and act out if needed. Change your tone of voice to suit the character. And don’t forget to encourage your child to do the same.
When our son was little, he would fantasize about being one of the characters in the book and we would simply play along. We noticed that this simple imaginative play helped him understand the text better. We still do this sometimes. So you too can try this with your child!
In conclusion, creating mental images and visualizing oneself as the character, apart from being fun, can help your child develop the skills needed to extract information at a deeper level.
I hope you found this post 10 Effective Strategies to Improve Reading Comprehension for Kids useful!
If you did, don’t forget to share this post with your friends.
And if you are doing something to improve your child’s reading comprehension, please let us know in the comments below.
Would love to know about it!
By the way, if you are looking for more tips on how to build other important literacy skills then check out my blog post 6 Important Pre Reading Skills to Prepare Your Child for Reading Success.