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How To Improve Reading Comprehension For Kids


Young boy reading a stack of books in front of a bookcase

When students have trouble reading, it can affect their performance in many subjects. Poor reading skills and comprehension can lead to frustration, low self-confidence, and poor grades.

But difficulty with reading and with comprehension is something that can be improved with regular practise. By learning to read effectively, your child can build skills that will help improve his or her reading skills and comprehension.

What Is Reading Comprehension?

Reading comprehension is the ability to read a sentence and understand its meaning. It is the ability to look at written words and process the meaning or ideas behind them.

Reading comprehension isn’t just understanding a single word or its meaning—it is the ability to recognize words, sentences, and paragraphs and make sense of the overall meaning.

Many Students Dislike Reading

41% of parents say that their children do not enjoy reading. That’s a lot of kids! And when kids don’t like reading, they are less likely to put the time in to improve. This leads to a cycle of poor reading skills, lowered comprehension, more frustration—and even less love for reading.

So how can we help our children become better readers?

These 12 reading strategies for struggling readers that boost comprehension and reading motivation are the place to start! Check them out below:

12 Strategies To Help Struggling Readers Improve Reading Comprehension

  1. Find books they’ll like
  2. Sometimes, low reading comprehension comes down to the fact that a student just isn’t interested in what he or she is reading. In fact, 73% of students say they would read more if they could find books they liked. The secret to becoming a better reader is practise—something that is much easier when your child actually likes what he or she is reading.

  3. Read aloud
  4. Hearing the words out loud helps many students gain a better understanding of what they are reading than they are able to get while reading in their head. Encourage your child to read aloud if he or she is struggling with a certain part of a book or a particular word.

  5. Skim the headings of the text
  6. Quickly skimming the headings of a book gives students a high-level overview of what they are reading. Your child can use the headings to quickly understand what the reading is about and the main points before he or she actually starts reading.

  7. Re-read sections that are confusing
  8. Revisiting the parts that were confusing for your child (or or that might simply need a quick refresher) can help your child gain a more complete picture of what he or she is learning. This also helps ensure your child is able to understand upcoming material in the text.

  9. Use a ruler or finger to follow along
  10. If your child has trouble keeping his or her place while reading, use a ruler or finger to make following along easier. This trick can also help students who have dyslexia and struggle with separating lines of text and sentences while reading.

  11. Write down words you don’t know
  12. As your child makes his or her way through the reading material, have him or her write down unfamiliar words. Encourage your child to look these words up in a dictionary to learn what they mean. Then, find ways to use them in a sentence that your child makes up him or herself.

  13. Discuss what your child has just read
  14. When your child has finished reading, talk about what he or she just read together. Ask your child what he or she learned and his or her thoughts. For longer reading materials, like novels for book reports, make discussion questions you and your child can talk about together after each reading session.

  15. Recap and summarize the main points
  16. When talking about the material with your child, ask him or her to recap and summarize the main points. Explaining what your child learned in his or her own words helps ensure your child understands what was read. It also helps relate the material to what he or she already knows.

  17. Write down questions about what you don’t understand
  18. Have your child make notes about what he or she doesn’t understand while reading. When your child has a question, encourage him or her to pause and reflect on what he or she has read. If your child still has unanswered questions, have him or her take these to the teacher for extra help.

  19. Use different formats
  20. Some students just aren’t natural readers—they learn better when they see, hear, or write things. If your student struggles with reading, find a format that works better and incorporate that into reading sessions. This could include writing down the main points as he or she reads or visualizing the material by drawing what your child is reading (for older students, this could be a mind map).

  21. Identify reading problems
  22. If your child is struggling with reading on an ongoing basis, watch for red flags that he or she may have a reading difficulty. Dyslexia is relatively common, with up to 5 students in a classroom suffering from some form of this reading difficulty. If your child seems to struggle with reading without any improvement, it’s important to identify whether he or she has a reading problem so you can take steps to solve it.

  23. Get a reading tutor
  24. Improving your child’s reading skills and comprehension is something that you can do at home each day. For students who need an extra boost, a reading tutor can help improve these skills even more.

    For more tips on how to help your child become a better reader, read our blog post on how to encourage good reading habits in kids.

    If your child still needs help, the reading tutors at Oxford Learning can help! Find your nearest location and learn how we can help.

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