How to Improve Reading Comprehension

Good readers are active readers. To make kids active readers we should make them interested in the subject. However, it’s impossible to do if they struggle with reading or language skills. In that case, it is pretty hard to enjoy reading and most kids can be reluctant to do it.

Reading comprehension is the ability to read and understand the meaning not only of a separate word but of the whole paragraphs and make sense of the overall meaning. When children have difficulties with comprehension, it can lead to frustration, low self-esteem, worse performance.

The good news is that there are a lot of ways teachers can encourage their pupils to read. When a kid has a challenging time understanding the text, here are some useful strategies to try.

Teach them to skim the text

A quick skimming of the text gives pupils a high-level overview of what they are going to read. A child can get a general idea what the piece of writing is about and the gist of it before actually starting reading.

Introduce vocabulary and make connections

Discuss what they already know about the topic, evoke some memories or guesses. Work with some new (the most difficult/useful/important) words from the text before making your pupils read it. Introducing vocabulary goes hand-in-hand with building background knowledge. Connecting what children already know with some new information sharpens their focus and deepens understanding.

Ask questions

They will help to get ready for absorbing the text and its meaning and ideas. Before reading you can ask your students: What is the title and what does it tell us? What might this book/text/article be about? During reading: What’s going on in the book/text/article? Is it turning out the way you thought it would? What do you think will happen next? How is the main character feeling?

After reading: Can you summarize the book/text/article? What did you like about it? Why did the author write this? Why is this information important?

Questions can lead and hold the kids’ attention, help them to concentrate on the main idea and message better. Children will look for clues in the text, their curiosity will be sparked.

Read one paragraph at a time

Make kids read short paragraphs. That will allow you to control their comprehending and will lessen their frustration in front of a long-read. It’s also important to determine the main idea of each paragraph and write out the keywords to support it.

Have them write down the words they don’t know

As pupils make their way through the reading material, have them write down unfamiliar words. Encourage them to look these words up in a dictionary to find out the meanings. Then, make kids use these words in some sentences or while answering the questions.

Constantly monitor comprehension

Teach your pupils how to “fix-up” difficult to understand parts of any text. Here are the tips:

  1. Re-read.
  2. Read out loud. This forces to go slower, which gives a child more time to process the info. Moreover, he’s not only seeing the image of words, but he’s also hearing their “melody”.
  3. Look at and analyze illustrations.
  4. Find confusing words.
  5. Re-read sections that are not quite clear.
  6. Using the t echnique will help to see the meaning better.

Fast reading

This advice is connected with the previous one as most young readers have a hard time focusing on both decoding all the words and thinking about the message of what they are reading at the same time. The situation can be improved by re-reading familiar texts. With each next reading a kid is taken deeper and deeper with comprehension.

Provide Meaningful After-Reading Activities

After reading kids have to be able not only to remember what they’ve just read. They have to be able to explain their opinion about the text. Ask them questions, make them create a plan to the text, retell it to each other. You may build a mind map together, make up a continuation of a story, etc.

Create “mind movies”

Visualizing makes the text alive. Such “mind movies” develop imagination and the story becomes more memorable and clear. Make your pupils use all their senses and emotions and share their “mind movies.” Compare how different they are from each other. You might ask young readers to draw what’s in their imagination and describe the picture using the keywords from the text.

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