Reading is an essential skill for anyone, but it’s not quite as easy to master for some children. Or even after they have mastered reading, they still don’t understand what they’re reading. Some students might have a hard time getting the hang of what something is trying to tell them, which is essential in many different tests they’ll take throughout their school years.
Even for adults, it’s never too late to learn more about reading comprehension. It can help you understand the things that you read for fun as well as understanding the things that you need to know for work and even your personal life. That’s why we’re going to take a closer look at just what it all means and strategies to improve reading comprehension.
What is Reading Comprehension?
Before we get too far into how you can improve your reading comprehension, let’s take a little time to go over what reading comprehension is. Well, reading comprehension means that you can not only read the text that’s put in front of you, but you can understand and interpret what is being said in that text.
In order to truly comprehend the text, there are a few different steps involved. The first is what’s considered ‘decoding’ the information. Then you need to be able to connect what you’re reading with other information that you already know. Then, you need to be able to think about the information that you’ve just ready.
Once you’re able to do each of these things, then you’ll be able to comprehend what you’re reading rather than just skimming over the words. This is an important distinction and something that children are generally taught in their younger years. However, if they don’t learn it, then it can make things quite tricky for them moving forward.
What’s the Importance of Reading Comprehension?
Reading comprehension is essential because it’s going to help your child learn new things. It also helps adults learn new things because you can read about it and process them and understand what those new things actually mean. This can help you learn skills or information that you’re interested in or even keep up with what’s happening around the world.
When you can engage in reading comprehension, you can also continue to read and enjoy it. When you can’t understand what it is that you’re reading, it’s definitely not going to be as much fun for you or as interesting. But if you know how to comprehend it, you’re going to become a much more active reader, and you’ll find yourself enjoying what you read.
Developing a love of reading in children is a great thing, and it’s something you want to start working toward as early as possible. That’s how you’re going to keep your children reading and learning and expanding their horizons in so many different ways. But there’s more to it than that as well, even if they don’t become lifelong lovers of reading.
Reading comprehension is crucial for your child to do well in school. If they don’t learn how to engage in this skill, they’re going to have a much harder time accomplishing many of the different things that they need to do to succeed in school. This is one reason that children who have dyslexia and don’t get help can struggle greatly.
But children who aren’t dyslexic can struggle with this skill as well. It’s possible to help them develop the skill by working with them, which is how all children will eventually learn. Just keep in mind that the younger you learn this skill, the easier it will be, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn it later. You’ll just have to be more dedicated and determined.
What are the Five Reading Comprehension Strategies?
Also known as the ‘High 5 Reading Strategy’, several components make it possible for children and adults of all ages to engage in this skill. It starts with activating background knowledge and then questioning, analyzing text structure, visualization, and summarizing. By going through each of these phases, you will be demonstrating reading comprehension.
Activating background knowledge
The first step is to connect what you’re currently reading to something you already know. It might be a topic that you’re already familiar with, or it might be something that you’ve seen or experienced on your own. Connecting it back to something that is already familiar helps make new connections and garner more interest in the topic.
Children are great at asking questions, but not necessarily the type of questions that they need to ask when it comes to reading comprehension. With reading comprehension, it’s vital to ask questions about what they think they’re going to read and then ask questions after they read it to understand the material better. This is done in three stages.
Right now, questions look at what the material is saying.
Analytical questions look at what the author wants them to learn.
Research questions look at what other information they can learn about the topic after reading.
Analyzing text structure
This portion is all about comprehension. It’s done by recognizing the author’s pattern, such as cause and effect or problem-solution, or descriptive. Once they understand the way the material is being presented, it’s much easier for the child to understand what’s being said and how it’s being said.
Here, the child is asked to imagine what they’re reading. So, they read the text and then picture it in their mind. This can help them look at the information in different ways and make it a lot easier for them to imagine what they’re reading. If they can picture it, they may be able to make it make more sense.
Finally, asking the child to summarize what they have read has been proven to help them remember the information. They should be able to slim the content down into a few crucial points that they can share with someone else who would understand the material even if they hadn’t read it.
What are the Causes of Poor Reading Comprehension?
There are a number of reasons that someone might have poor reading comprehension. Still, it generally gets back to a lack of practice at it or a learning disability that makes it more difficult for the individual to learn these skills, primarily when associated with reading and processing in complex ways.
Children who have learning disabilities will be at the most significant risk of struggling with reading comprehension. They may struggle to read at all, which then makes it harder for them to pick up on nuances or inflection in the text or to pick up on meanings. This is especially true if the text isn’t quite straightforward or requires background knowledge or context.
Some children who have learning disabilities aren’t given the right support and encouragement to help them work through or around their disability. This means that those who already struggle aren’t given what they need to improve. Because they are already at a disadvantage, it takes a great deal more support and practice to be able to learn the skills they need to master reading comprehension.
Also, some children struggle with this concept even if they don’t have a documented learning disability. They may struggle to form the connections necessary to truly understand what they read or struggle with an interest in the material. For some children, learning disabilities are not the reason that they struggle in school. Instead, they may struggle because they haven’t yet found something that interests them.
Many young children especially have a hard time concentrating on anything. Especially if it’s something that they have no interest in. That’s why it’s a good idea to start children out with things that they are interested in, especially with reading. Otherwise, they may find it hard to grasp the concept from the start, which can put them behind.
How to Develop Your Reading Comprehension?
If you’re looking for ways to develop reading comprehension, the best thing you can do is practice. Spending time reading and working through the steps we discussed above will help any student get better at this skill. And the best part is that it doesn’t have to be done in a class entirely. It can be done just about anywhere.
Encouraging your child to read is going to help them develop these skills, and all you need to do is make sure that you’re giving them something that they will enjoy reading. So, start out with a topic, you already know that they enjoy and work your way from there. If you need a little more advice, check out the next section.
The key is going to be practice. No matter what they read (or you read) they’re going to get help developing the right skills just through the process of reading. And that’s the whole point.
7 Effective Ways to Improve Your Reading Comprehension
So, what specific things can you do to improve your reading comprehension or learn how to comprehend faster? Well, there are a few. We mentioned that you should read, but there are some ways that we can break that down into even more essential aspects.
Read something you enjoy.
Look for topics of interest to you or your child. The more interested they are in the topic, the more they’re going to want to read about it and learn more. So, if your child loves space, then get them books on space. If they love dinosaurs, then get them books on dinosaurs. They’ll be more likely to read the books than if they only get to read the ones that are assigned to them in school.
Get something at the right reading level.
If your child is struggling with reading getting them a book that’s too advanced for them will only make them more frustrated. They’re going to struggle through it, or they’re not going to be able to read it, and that’s going to make them feel even worse or even more like they can’t do it. Instead, look for something that they should be able to read based on their level of ability, not on their grade level.
Ask them to talk about it.
Don’t just give your child a book and then hope they’re going to read it and understand. Take a little time to ask them about what they read and what they learned. Discuss it with them. If this is a topic that they like, it should be easier to get them to talk about it, and that’s going to help them better comprehend (remember the summarizing part of the process?).
Work on vocabulary.
Knowing more words will make it easier to read in general and easier to understand the things you’re reading. Improving reading comprehension through vocabulary is possible. If you take the time to help your child learn more words, and especially learn words that are used frequently in the reading they do for fun or for school, you’re going to set them up on a better path. There are plenty of ways to work on vocabulary.
Gauge their current situation.
Find out where your child is starting from and what they’re already excellent or not-so-good at. That way, you can help them with the parts that they’re struggling with. You don’t have just to sit back and hope that things are going to work themselves out. You can figure out where to focus your attention (and theirs) to get the results you want.
Don’t push through.
All too often, people try just to push through when they start getting stuck, and while that can work sometimes, it can also get overwhelming and frustrating. Encourage your child to stop if they find themselves getting confused or overwhelmed and take a deep breath and then try to explain what they’ve just read. If they can’t then, they should go back and try it again a little slower but don’t keep going if they don’t know what’s happening.
Read out loud.
There’s something about reading out loud that seems to help just about everyone. So encourage your child to read their books out loud if they seem to be struggling. They may find it easier to understand some of the words or to recognize what’s being said this way.
Wrapping Things Up: How to Improve Reading Comprehension
When it comes to improving reading comprehension, you need to make sure you first understand what it is. Then, make sure that you’re working with your child or working on your own as much as possible. Spending time reading about exciting things will make it easier to figure out all of the High 5 Reading Strategies’ different components. That makes it easier to master reading comprehension and start enjoying it too.