A child’s reading ability not only impacts their writing and language skills, it has a direct effect on all of the areas of their schooling. However, low grades and poor performance at school isn’t the only consequence of finding reading a struggle, it can also cause a child to have low self-confidence and become frustrated with their ability, especially when compared to other children their age.
Luckily, there are practises that can be put in place to greatly improve a child’s reading comprehension so that they can build their skillset and feel confident in the classroom.
To find out why reading comprehension is so important, and how you can improve your child’s reading comprehension, keep reading.
What is reading comprehension and why is it important?
Reading comprehension is, by definition, the ability to read a sentence and understand its meaning. It isn’t simply understanding the meaning of one word, it’s about processing the meaning behind them and how they fit into a sentence and alter the overall meaning and idea.
Reading comprehension is important because without it a child will not have the ability to comprehend ideas and grasp knowledge that affects their day-to-day lives. Understanding the meaning of a single word is redundant if it is not understood in the context of a sentence or paragraph.
To ensure your young child has the best start in reading, you should enrol them in a early childhood development program. Here they will be given all the tools and resources to aid their school readiness.
How to help your child improve their reading comprehension: 10 top tips
- Spark their interest
Many children do not enjoy reading because they find it difficult, and their willingness to improve their reading skills is restricted because they are ultimately not interested in what they are consuming. Therefore, in order to increase their willingness to learn, it is important that you give them texts that appeal to their interests and that they can connect to.
- Encourage them to read aloud
Reading aloud is the best way for a child to understand the words that they are reading and how sentences are structured. If they are stuck on a particular word, reading aloud will help them to sound it out phonetically and use logic to work out its meaning and etymology.
- Re-read any sections that he or she finds confusing
There will be some sections of a book or text that your child finds easier to understand than others, and this is completely normal. If there is a paragraph, sentence or word that is causing some confusion, go over it once, even twice, until they understand its meaning and its context within the text. This will ensure they have a better grasp on the overall meaning and what’s to come.
- Point to the words as you read them
A way to really help a child’s reading comprehension – especially those who are Dyslexic – is to hold a finger or a ruler over the sentence as you read it. This way, your child will read each word in the right order, meaning they will better understand sentence structure and meaning.
- Keep a list of words they don’t know
If a child comes across a word they do not know or can’t pronounce, get them to write it down. Then, revisit this word again and again until they are fully familiar with its meaning and its context within a sentence. Keeping a list like this also acts as a good record of their learning journey.
- Ask him or her their thoughts on what they’re reading
After your child has finished reading, it’s important to spark a discussion about what they have just read: the themes, the characters, the plot twists, etc. Otherwise, they may be simply saying words rather than engaging in their meaning and how they build a narrative arc.
- Summarise the main points of the text
To ensure a child is understanding what they are reading, you should ask them to summarise what they have read after they have read it. Get them to write down or say aloud the main points, and how they link to each other.
- Encourage them to ask questions
Whenever your child doesn’t understand what they are reading, you should encourage them to pause, reflect, take their time, and ask questions. This is the best way to learn. You should also get the to write down any notes or questions they have whilst reading.
- Try alternate methods
Children learn in different ways and different formats may favour different children, especially when it comes to reading. While some children have an aptitude for words and are naturally talented at reading, others may need visual or audible prompts to assist their learning and recall. Get your child to read aloud, make notes, draw pictures – whatever aids their learning needs.
- Identify reading problems
It’s important to recognise whether or not your child has difficulty learning, and whether the difficulty is caused by a learning difficulty such as Dyslexia. Dyslexia is very common among children and adults – one out of five children is believed to experience a degree of Dyslexia. If you can recognise the signs early on, you can put the measures in place to help them with their reading comprehension as much as possible.
Reading is an important skill that everyone can master, however it may come more naturally to some than it does to others. It’s crucial to remember that reading is something that not everyone enjoys, so by knowing your child and observing their learning tendencies you can help to tailor their approach to reading so that they can improve their reading comprehension. Once you see an improvement here, you’ll witness improvement across all areas of their education.
And, if you take away one thing from this article, take this: reading is supposed to be enjoyable, so don’t forget to your encourage your child’s joy for storytelling. You never know, they may develop a passion for it..