How to Help a Child With Reading Comprehension

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Ask Questions

When you search, how to help a child with reading comprehension, you’ll find suggested strategies for improvement. Some tips might tell you to ask your child to read aloud, provide books at their level, or ask you to get your child to talk about their reading. These surface activities might work for a moment. However, you’ll need to dig deeper to make lasting changes. What can you do to help your child improve their reading comprehension?
Start with a few questions.

Does my child know how to read?

Do you find that your child dreads reading? When you ask them to read, they might do everything to avoid it. Hating reading is a sign that it is a difficult task for them. Not many people take pleasure in engaging in activities that are too hard!

If your child doesn’t like to read, they might be trying to tell you that they don’t know how to read. You will need to teach them to read, and if you or the school have not been able to teach your child to read, you will need to find someone who can.

Does my child know the meaning of words?

How can you tell if your child knows the meaning of words? When you ask your child a question or give verbal directions, do they understand you most of the time? Do you find that you have to explain things often? There is a difference between not understanding due to language and not understanding due to not paying attention.
Here is an example.

Grownup: Why did the girl get presents?

Child: She got lots of toys.

Oral language issues will make reading and understanding text difficult. Help your child improve their vocabulary knowledge by talking and reading to them. Kids can read what they can understand. When children know many words, they have an easier time reading and comprehending.

Does my child’s reading sound smooth?

Is your child reading in large phrase groups, or are they reading word-by-word? If your child is reading slowly and sounding out many words with numerous instances of repeating words and phrases, they are not able to attend to the meaning of the text.

Fluent reading, or reading in larger phrase groups, attending to punctuation, and reading with expression are skills that enhance reading comprehension. When these skills come together, the child can make sense of what they are reading. Once children learn to read, they can continue to build fluency and comprehension with repeated readings of the same passage.

Is my child reading the words correctly?

Your child’s reading sounds smooth and they have a vast knowledge of word meanings, what could be the problem? Is your child reading the words accurately? If a child makes many errors when reading, their understanding will be affected. By the middle of 2nd grade, children should be reading above 96% accuracy. 90% and below would be considered in the red range according to the DIBELS benchmark goals.

In the Viva Phonics program, students must read with 96% accuracy with fluent reading before they are able to move on to the next lesson.

Next Steps

Knowing letter-sound relationships, having strong vocabulary knowledge, and reading with fluency and accuracy are necessary for reading comprehension. There are reading screeners that can help pinpoint the reason a child might be struggling with reading comprehension. At Viva Phonics, we utilize the DIBELS 8th Edition materials. These are a series of 1-minute assessments. If you are interested in finding out why your child might be struggling with reading comprehension, schedule an appointment for a free reading skills check.