Developing reading comprehension skills is important for absorbing story books as a young child. As children get older, this skill will help them understand textbooks, newspapers, and other more complex texts. Scholastic offers plenty of grade-appropriate reading comprehension workbooks that can help your child practice, but in addition, here are six tips to sharpen reading comprehension skills in your early reader:
1. Have him read aloud. This forces him to go slower, which gives him more time to process what he reads and in turn improves reading comprehension. Plus, he's not only seeing the words — he's hearing them, too! You can also take turns reading aloud.
2. Provide books at the right level. Make sure your child gets lots of practice reading books that aren't too hard. She should recognize at least 90 percent of the words without any help. Stopping any more often than that to figure out a word makes it tough for her to focus on the overall meaning of the story. If your child needs help transitioning from picture books to chapter books, try Scholastic's Branches line, which is designed to bridge that gap for growing readers.
3. Reread to build fluency. To gain meaning from text and encourage reading comprehension, your child needs to read quickly and smoothly — a skill known as fluency. By the beginning of 3rd grade, for example, your child should be able to read 90 words a minute. Rereading familiar, simple books gives your child practice at decoding words quickly, so she'll become more fluent in her reading comprehension. Learn more about the multiple benefits of rereading books!
4. Talk to the teacher. If your child is struggling with reading comprehension, he may need more help with building his vocabulary or practicing phonics skills. (This Pete the Cat Phonics Box Set and this PAW Patrol Phonics Box Set are fun ways to help your child build necessary phonics skills.) A teacher can weigh in on the best next steps to take.
5. Supplement her class reading. If your child's class is studying a particular theme, look for easy-to-read books or magazines on the topic. Some prior knowledge will help her make her way through tougher classroom texts and promote reading comprehension.
6. Talk about what he's reading. This "verbal processing" helps him remember and think through the themes of the book. Ask questions before, during, and after a session to encourage reading comprehension. (Read about all the questions you should ask during story time here!) For example:
- Before: "What are you interested in about this book? What doesn't interest you?"
- During: "What's going on in the book? Is it turning out the way you thought it would? What do you think will happen next?"
- After: "Can you summarize the book? What did you like about it? What other books does it remind you of?"