For some children, reading comprehension help is just a frustrating, pointless exercise of reading words on a page. How can we help our children to become active, engaged and competent readers? This is not something that comes naturally to most children. It is something that needs to be taught and practiced. Here are a few strategies and techniques parents might use with their children for reading comprehension help.
Build Background Knowledge
The first step in reading comprehension help is connecting the child with the text. Before reading a text help the child build background knowledge. If the text is about the Himalayan Mountains, consider showing the child a visual representation of the terrain, landscape, etc. Ask them about the similarities and differences between the pictures they see and their own city and town. Building this background with information is critical in helping the children visualize what they are reading while they are reading it.
Teach the Student to Visualize as they Read
The next step in reading comprehension help is learning to visualize. During the reading, stop and ask the child questions relating to the reading. Ask them what did they see while they were reading and what did it look like, sound like, etc. By asking questions during the reading, you are giving the child a purpose for reading as well as focusing his or her attention on what they are reading.
Use Graphic Organizers
Another important element in reading comprehension help is using a multi-sensory approach. During the reading, have the child use a graphic organizer to help set the visualization of the text. For example, they could compare two characters from the story and decide how they are similar and different using their organizer. This keeps the child engaged and active, as well as gives them a purpose as they are reading through the text.
Discuss the Reading both Verbally and Written
Once the reading is complete, it is important for the parent to monitor the child to determine whether reinforcement is necessary. This can be accomplished through a variety of different activities – both orally and written.
• Create a story map with the child. Draw a vertical diagram with spaces for the child to fill in the names of the main characters, the story’s setting, and the main problem in the story, a few events, the resolution and the ending.
• Have the child retell the story or text in their own words.
• Write the words Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How on chart paper. Have the child answer these questions as they pertain to the story.
• Ask the child to draw parallels to what they have just read, and something they have read in the past.
A strong reader is not just someone who can read anything, read it fast and read it well. A strong reader is engaged and active in the reading. This reader therefore comprehends the text in many various skill levels. This is not something that usually comes naturally; this is something that needs to be taught. Motivate and guide your children through comprehension, make it fun, and make it lasting.
Karina Richland, M.A. is the Founder of PRIDE Learning Centers, located in Los Angeles and Orange County. Ms. Richland is a certified reading and learning disability specialist. Ms. Richland speaks frequently to parents, teachers, and professionals on learning differences, and writes for several journals and publications. You can visit the PRIDE Learning Center website at: www.pridelearningcenter.com