Comprehension in reading is all about understanding the idea that the author of the text wanted to pass across. Just like any other parent that wants the best for their child, you probably wonder: “How can I improve my child’s reading comprehension?”
Transferring knowledge to children can be very demanding, especially if you don’t know how to go about it. If you are a teacher, you may get really frustrated with children not being able to understand what in the world are they reading! So, let’s start with a problem and define it:
Main reasons for the child’s mind to wander around and not concentrate in the first place:
- A child is shy (he or she doesn’t trust the surroundings or is not independent enough)
- A child is bored (the book or lesson is just not interesting enough)
- A child is sad and cannot concentrate on anything (which happens to adults all the time)
- A child is in a bad mood (things happen, we don’t know what challenges or inner growth he or she is going through)
Now, let’s solve the problem (otherwise, regardless of what you do, you simply will not be effective)!
- Make children feel happy, and joke around! They will feel comfortable and will trust you more.
- Find a book or create a lesson very close to what they experience at their age and again, make lots of jokes!
- Let things flow. Everyone will learn at their own pace, so don’t rush it or put pressure on anybody.
- Don’t take anything personally and try to put everybody in a good mood. Making jokes is a very good way to relax children and keep yourself in a good state of mind.
Some students are fast learners while others are a little bit slower, but you don’t want to leave anyone behind. Our job as parents and teachers is to make children think about what they are reading. Thinking creates connections and connections will give them the ability to make better quality decisions in life ahead.
After doing our research, we found out that there are some great methods and tips to help your child with reading comprehension:
- Involve your child in a process; let them pick a book or reading material. No, really? You can pick a second book after that yourself, but your child REALLY needs to feel important and this is a good way to show it.
- Sharpen the child’s focus by creating connections with life situations. If students can focus, they will be able to comprehend any passage that they read. A great way to do it is to get your child to make connections between what they know and what they are reading at this moment. If you notice that the story (or part of the story) is about a similar situation that your child is going through right now, make comments and compare. Our guidance, as a parent or a teacher, in the way we point out elements in the reading material, can be crucial to a child’s success.
- Make them think by asking questions. By asking children questions about the text, you’ll make them understand the importance of reading with focus. Active reading like this will help your students remember the details of the text. Get them intrigued: “Do you think the character will survive?”, “What would you do in place of a character?”, “What did the character do wrong here?”, etc.
- Spark their imagination by creating a visual. As human beings, we tend to remember the things we can see and imagine. Books with pictures are a great way to start in that direction, but as a parent or a teacher, you can also help your child to start using their senses and creating mental images of everything that is happening in the text they are reading. Drawing out your child’s visual images on paper will seal the bond between his mind and the reading material. They will start remembering more information from a book and will have an opportunity to analyze it on their own. What a great thing to learn for your life!
- If your child is more auditory (more sensitive to sound than to pictures), then read material out loud or get them to read out loud themselves! There are many benefits to that. If you are reading, listening to your voice may calm them down and they can close their eyes to see the story in their head. If they are reading out loud themselves, they may just have fun listening to their own voice and whatever you do yourself, you usually do with more attention.
- Sometimes kids are more “touchy-feely” and they need the kinesthetic (tactile) approach to reading. That might include holding them while reading, hugging them once in a while, and if it’s a class, just pointing out emotions that the subject is feeling at a moment. This should get the attention of those kinds of students.
- Make them curious by focusing on what is important to a child. If you know your child or student really well, this should not be a problem. You may grab their attention by commenting: “Oh, this guy is just like you! Look what he did!”
- Encourage your child or students to ask questions and be helpful whenever they do. If your child starts asking questions – that means you are on the right track! He or she is beginning to think about the subject or a story. Whether it’s a character question or a plotline, or even a word that they don’t know, make it easy for them to tell you about it.
- Encourage them to take notes and look up what they don’t understand. As your child identifies confusing words, you can make it into a list and go over it after each chapter. Sometimes we don’t realize it, but reading can be quite difficult if the book is using unfamiliar vocabulary. This is also a great way to learn anything new!
- The most underestimated way of learning and understanding material – is writing it out! If your child can write and the subject is quite boring to him or her, just tell them to “blindly” start writing material from their book on paper. If you can manage someone to do that, you will see how quickly their brain gets attached to material and start thinking on its own! Writing absolutely everything is not required; this is just a trick to get the brain going.
- Most important – set an example of reading! Whether it’s a newspaper, magazine, or book, kids need to see you do it! If you don’t do it, why would they?
- And, don’t forget to… have fun with it! Reading needs to be enjoyable and the atmosphere needs to be pleasant for everyone. If you are not having fun reading with your child or class, no one is going to really enjoy the lesson or even think about it when they leave the room. “Humor has the ability to decrease students’ anxiety, improve the ability to learn, and boost self-esteem” – Ron Berk (humorist, educator, scholar, and author)
Famous techniques for improving Reading Comprehension:
- Reciprocal teaching. Activity that involves having a dialog with a reader after each paragraph.
- Phonics. A system that shows a relation between sounds and letters.
Note to parents and teachers
To get the idea behind a text, you need to first, have the right vocabulary to do it, and second, get your brain connected (visually, auditory or kinesthetic way) to whatever is being read. If any of your senses are not involved, reading material will feel more like vacuum cleaner instructions without pictures.
That’s why connecting to real-life scenarios is so important and the best will the ones that can connect with that specific child directly (any personal experience in their life). In the end, the only way to know the author’s message is to try to “walk in the shoes” of the author or his / her book character and you really cannot do it if you don’t “feel” the book in some ways.
Reading comprehension is a necessary skill that everyone has got to learn! You simply cannot replace reading ability by watching movies or listening to speech. Reading on your own and understanding the text is the only way to really “control your life”. Nothing is being “dumped” on you, no commercial breaks, and no sales pitches that take your brain in any desired direction. YOU are in control by choosing what to read, how much to read and when to read.
Attention! All articles are for informational purposes ONLY and they are NOT a subsittue for a professional advice! The goal of this website is to provide readers with high-quality reviews of children’s books, which are our opinion only and no sponsorship from anybody is involved.
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