How to Improve Reading Comprehension for Children & Adults
Tips to Improve Reading Skills
Children and adults can improve their reading comprehension by following five simple steps.
Five Steps to Improved Reading Comprehension
Step 1: Pre-read What You Will Be Reading.
This step can be as simple as scanning the table of contents, reading the introduction, browsing chapter titles, skimming whole articles for subheadings, or jumping ahead to the last page to see where the article will be taking you. Of course, what you are reading will determine what “pre-reading” looks like, but you get the idea. The point is to take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the scope of the material. In effect, you are creating a mental “map” of what you’ll be reading.
Step 2: Review Any Questions You Want to Answer.
These might be formal questions (such as questions on a quiz, or questions at the end of a chapter), but they don’t have to be. These might be questions you come up with yourself regarding the kind of information you’re looking for. For example, are you looking for practical financial advice related to IRAs? Is your child reading a book for history class that’s posing questions for them? The demographics of a city for a marketing campaign you are putting together?
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the content of an article, report, or book (and even easier to get distracted by all the information that is available on the internet!). Staying focused on the answers you need can keep you from getting pulled off-task, and help you recognize the information you need when you see it.
Step 3: Interact with the Content as Much as You Can.
While you are reading, find ways to interact with the content. Write things down. Use a yellow highlighter. Take audio notes. If you are reading something on a digital device, there are applications that will let you apply “sticky notes.” Draw something to represent an insight you just got. Read aloud. The more you can interact with the material, the easier it will be to understand, remember, and apply this information when you need it.
Step 4: Go Back to the Questions from the Second Step
Remember the questions you identified in the second step? Did you get the answers you needed from the material you read? If not, go back and look again (especially if formal questions were provided). Not sure where to look? The “mental map” you created when you pre-read the material in Step 1 may help you know where to look.
Step 5: Still Struggling? Your Cognitive Skills are Probably Holding You Back! Here’s What You Can Do…
Stronger Cognitive Skills Can Help Improve Reading Skills
If you, or your child, are CONSISTENTLY struggling with reading comprehension, you need to improve the brain skills that we rely on for reading, spelling, and learning in general.
Children and adults can improve comprehension skills by strengthening those core cognitive skills. Here is a description of three of the cognitive skills the brain depends on for successful reading:
Auditory Processing: This is the skill your brain uses to analyze, blend, and segment sounds. If this skill is weak, you will struggle with reading fluency, and/or reading comprehension.
Working Memory (also known as Short-Term Memory). This is the skill your brain uses to hang on to information or ideas as you are using that information or developing those ideas. If working memory is weak, you may find yourself having to revisit the instructions in the middle of a project, having difficulty following multi-step directions, or feeling the need to reread things numerous times before it sinks in.
Visual Processing. This is the skill your brain uses to create mental pictures of what you are reading, which is really important when it comes to understanding or remembering content. When this skill is weak, reading comprehension can really suffer.
If weak cognitive skills hindering strong reading comprehension, there are brain training programs (that go beyond brain apps and games that don’t work!) you can do that will strengthen those weak skills. The process of using fun, intense mental exercises to improve cognitive skills is helping children and adults master the art of reading.
Does brain training work? Are cognitive skills really stronger after brain training? See for yourself. The following graphics shows the cognitive performance of thousands of children and adults before and after brain training, which helped take their reading comprehension skills to a whole new level.
Cognitive Improvements for Children
Cognitive Improvements for Adults
Studies show dramatic improvements in seven core areas of cognitive performance.
To learn more about brain training results, view our research results and download the full report.
The best way to know for sure if your reading comprehension skills are being hindered by cognitive weaknesses is to schedule a Brain Skills Assessment. You can schedule an Assessment at any LearningRx Brain Training Center near you. If you’re not near a Center, we have online training options.
Next, we’ll have a consultation with you to show you why you, or your child, are struggling. The Test takes about an hour and will give you invaluable insights into the cause—as well as the best intervention—behind why children and adults are struggling with reading comprehension.
Contact us today to learn how you can drastically improve reading comprehension skills.