Tips to Strengthen Reading Comprehension at Home
There are lots of things you can do at home to help strengthen your child’s reading comprehension – even before they’re old enough to read!
For younger children that you’ll be reading to, start by choosing a book that’s age appropriate. Anything too advanced may come across as boring or confusing. You want to hold their interest and ensure they understand most of the book, even if you’ll be introducing a few new words or concepts.
Next, skim the book for words or phrases that you’ll need to explain. No picture of a constellation? Print a picture off the Internet or take them outside the night before you read the book. Reading a book about shapes? Have some Play-Doh on hand to mold some triangles and ovals.
Encourage your child to use important brain skills like deductive reasoning, problem solving and memory by asking questions before during and after the reading. For example: “This book is called ‘The Case of the Missing Ham Sandwich.’ Looking at the picture on the cover, the boy and the girl seem to be looking for the sandwich, but the dog is just sitting still by the empty plate. What do you think could have happened to the sandwich?” Or after you’ve finished the book: “Do you remember the first place they looked for the sandwich?”
As kids get older, the books tend to get longer and more complex. Teenagers might be expected to read multiple lengthy chapters in one night. Increasing comprehension at this level begins with these four steps:
Step No. 1: Pre-read the material. This is as simple as skimming the table of contents, reading the first page of the introduction (to the book or chapter), and reading the chapter titles and headings.
Step No. 2: Review the questions you want the text to answer. These might be questions on a take-home quiz, questions at the end of a chapter, or questions that need to be answered to create the outline for a term paper.
Step No. 3: Take notes. Write them down. Take audio notes. Highlight the text online. Use computer apps that work as sticky notes.
Step No. 4: Review your answers to Step No. 2. Did you get everything answered to your satisfaction? If not, go back and find the answers based on the mental map you created in Step No. 1.
Most importantly, remember that reading is to be enjoyed, not dreaded. Set an example for your children by choosing books over TV and computer time as often as possible. Designate family “screen-free” time just as you would a family meal or movie and give your kids a taste for reading that they can savor for life!
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