Improving Reading Comprehension by Understanding the Reading Process

My Child Can Read, but Does He Really Understand?

The majority of school-aged children are able to read a basic book. If asked to read aloud, they can read all the words on the page clearly. After reading the story, however, have you ever asked your child what the story was about, where it took place, or who the characters were?

You might be surprised. My son was reading at a level two grades above his current one. He could read with dramatic inflection and different voices for each character. The problem was that he could not retain what he read. This was highly worrying, as reading well means nothing if the information received is not remembered.

Before trying to fix any possible problems with your child’s reading comprehension, you must figure out what those problems are. Ask them to read a couple of paragraphs of a story they have not yet read. Then ask them questions about the writing. Who was it about? What happened? When did it take place? You can even ask more precise questions about how the characters felt or what they were thinking. Sometimes it is best to start with the basics.

If your student cannot answer these questions, it is time to teach them a new way to read.

Begin by explaining the question words to them: who, what, where, when, why, and how. These are the important parts of anything they could read, whether fiction or non-fiction. They should keep these questions in mind when reading. Also explain, if your child is old enough for more precise information, that the question words pertain to characters, setting, plot, and theme.

Start by reading just one paragraph. Read it out loud to your child or have them read it themselves. You might like to try doing it both ways and seeing what works better. Every child has a different way of learning, and the important thing is that they do learn, not how they do it. After the paragraph is done, ask them the basic questions about. You can also ask them to summarize the paragraph.

Since reading comprehension is such an important part of understanding any topic, it is vital that a parent or teacher tests their child’s level. If reading comprehension is lacking, focusing on small chunks of story and answering basic questions can help.