Your child’s understanding of a text is essential to their reading development. If your child sometimes struggles to understand what they’re reading, this guide should help improve their comprehension.
From enjoying the colours in their first picture book, to discussing ideas in more advanced texts, supporting your child’s reading through shared discussion is a valuable activity. In this guide, we look at how parents can improve their child’s reading comprehension in the early years.
Use Active Questioning
As well as reading the words on each page, ask your child questions about the story. ‘Who, what, why, where, when’ questions help your child make deeper connections with the text. Asking questions like ‘what is the dog doing?’, ‘where is the cow?’, ‘how many ladybirds are there?’, will engage your child in the story and encourage them to seek a deeper understanding.
Before you sit down to read a new book, encourage your child to look at the cover and ask them what they think the book might be about. You can then read the blurb at the back to provide more insight into the plot and ask the question again to see if your child has anything to add. Once you’ve read the book, ask them if it’s what they expected. Was their prediction right? If not, what was different?
Encourage Them to Read Aloud
Reading aloud forces children to read slower than they would in their heads. A slower pace gives them more time to decode what they’ve just read, which adds to their understanding. If your child seems confused after reading a sentence aloud, ask them to read it again to see if it makes more sense the second time.
Take turns reading aloud, so that your child can focus more of their attention on the meaning of the words rather their pronunciation. Reading aloud also provides you, as a parent, with more insight into how they may be understanding the text. If they seem be getting a bit lost, start asking questions again to provide some context and reinforce their comprehension.
Identify Key Words
Being able to identify key words in a text is an essential skill for comprehension. Make a point of emphasising the words that are most strongly associated with the particular scene in the book. For example, if the scene is set in a garden, you may want to draw attention to the most important nouns and verbs, e.g. ‘flower’, ‘gardening’ etc.
Through word association, your child will learn how to decipher the plot of the story. They’ll be able to put the words ‘flower’ and ‘gardening’ together to understand that the character is planting flowers. Even if your child doesn’t fully understand what’s happening in a particular scene, identifying specific key words will provide them with some context.
By inferring what your child already knows with what’s happening in the book, you can strengthen their comprehension of the text. For example, if you’re reading a book about insects, you can make references to your child’s own experiences. You might say ‘sometimes we find insects in our garden, don’t we?’ ‘Remember that time you found a spider?’ By making inferences, your child will feel a stronger connection to what they’re reading.
You can also use this technique to predict what might happen next in the book. For example, you could ask ‘what happened when you tried to touch the spider?’ You child may remember that the spider ran away, which will help them make the connection with what might happen in the story.
Even if the plot doesn’t work out as predicted, ask your child what was different and compare their real-life experience with what happened in the book.
Create a Picture in Their Head
Engaging your child’s imagination can help them remember what they read. Once you’ve read a page, focus in on the fine details that aren’t mentioned in the story. Draw their attention to what’s going on in the background and engage your child’s senses. Ask them what noises they can hear, how the scene might smell, what the objects might feel like to touch.
This level of deep engagement will help you child hold on to the scene in their minds for longer, giving them a reference point as the story progresses. Making a story visual can bring a text to life and improve their understanding of what’s going on.
For more information on how to improve a child’s reading comprehension, take a look at this short video from the Education Endowment Foundation:
At Edu Prints Plus, we make educational posters for children that are designed to inspire their learning. All of our high-quality posters are printed on thick, luxurious 350 gsm art card with a lovely velvet finish. Each one has added surface protection to ensure that sticky fingers won’t cause permanent marks.
If you’re looking for ways to improve your child’s reading comprehension so that they develop a love of books, take a look at our reading posters for children. They make a great addition to bedrooms and classrooms alike. Here are two of our favourite reading prints below: