Strategies to Help Your Young Student Improve His or Her Reading Skills and Comprehension
Reading comprehension is critical to the learning and development of all young students. Unfortunately, it is too often overlooked. Sometimes, parents, teachers and educators assume that if a student knows how to read, that student should naturally be able to comprehend what they are reading. However, in our information overload and fast-paced society, many kids (and parents!) are not taking the time to recognize that the key ingredient of reading – understanding – is often missing. Here are some tips to make sure that you (as a parent or as a teacher) are helping your young student improve his or her reading comprehension.
1. Read aloud. If you do not have the time to read aloud with your student, make sure that they are reading aloud to themselves at home. By reading aloud, the student forces themselves to overcome tough words and ideas. Rather than just being able to glance over the words with their eyes, and therefore glance over the ideas with their minds, reading aloud pushes them to recognize and understand the text.
2. Make sure they are reading outside of the classroom. Although the amount of reading required for school can sometimes seem overwhelming, it is essential that your student do some reading of their own. If they are only reading required books and articles for school, they may get the idea that reading is not something to be enjoyed. You want your student to realize that, although there is much reading to be done in school that may not be “fun”, there are an incredible number of books out there waiting to be read that are intended solely for enjoyment!
3. Alternate between shorter and longer books. For the outside reading that your student will be doing, make sure they are switching back and forth between longer and shorter books, and more complex and more simple ones. If your student is reading only long, difficult books, reading will become extremely daunting and beyond their comprehension. On the other hand, if your student is reading only short, easy books, reading will not push them to expand their knowledge. By rotating the types and lengths of books, your student will be able to learn a great deal more by challenging themselves with harder books, while also maintaining the confidence given by easier books. This will allow for them to feel successful and simultaneously curious in their reading endeavors.
4. Re-read. There are many books and articles that are filled with such a great amount of information that it seems impossible to pick up on all ideas with merely one reading. That is all part of the learning process; you are reading something new to learn something new. It is very important for your student to re-read a book or an article until they fully understand what it is saying.
5. Take notes. Along with re-reading, taking notes is very important in reading comprehension. Ideas are more ingrained in you if you write them down, and will make it easier for your student when it comes to studying for a test.
6. Re-tell. Talk with your student about what they’re reading and ask them to re-tell you what they read. If they can successfully explain to you what they just read, then they comprehended it. If not, make sure that they go through the steps above until they are able to discuss a reading with you that truly conveys a thorough understanding.
While reading can present many challenges, it is an incredibly powerful tool in our world today that must be understood in order to be correctly used. There is so much fun and learning to be had with reading – make sure that your student is taking these steps for success in their understanding, and therefore enjoyment of the vast world of reading!