Teaching Reading Comprehension to Kids

Teaching Reading Comprehension, As the meaning stands, Comprehension is nothing but understanding. In a general context, comprehension is assumed to be literary or “to be read and understood”. Children do have their own preferences for learning styles (can be visual, auditory, reading, or experiential).

However, our academic development (in most countries) is immensely dependent on literacy skills. Hence the skill of reading comprehension is of paramount importance in the elementary years.

Once the child has achieved the prerequisite skills of reading a text (such as reading basic sight words, phonetic reading of new words, and therefore reading sentences), comprehension is all that is left next. Beginning from simple stories, statement sums in Maths, an increasing number of academic subjects, Comprehension is the foundation for everything ahead.

At this stage, many of our fancy young readers are very upset. This includes children with communication difficulties and children with ASD. Some of them are fluent at reading and love to read aloud, however, not much of it gets understood, as reading had been a fun audio entertainment for them. This added task of answering questions, hidden in almost each of the sentences isn’t much fun.

Many a time it is a struggle to get children to answer questions from a piece of text they had freshly read. Even though the words are simple for them and they have the word meanings explained, the concept often remains vague to them. Or sometimes the sequences of the events are not recorded in the proper order. Teaching Reading Comprehension

Here are some ideas that have worked with children, with diverse neurotypes and learning preferences. Hope they can help some more children too.

  1. Relate the purpose: This seems to be the most important thing to clarify for our children: “Why do we need to do it?” We as adults should know that our children belong to the future, which is more advanced in terms of developing and utilizing skills. Enjoying an eventful story, or learning a new fact about the favourite animal, curiosity is what needs to be elicited in them.
  2. Picture Comprehension Exercises: For beginners, picture descriptions are a great way to frame sentences and also answering questions. Simply gazing onto the storybook pictures often let the tiny thoughts wonder about “what exactly is going on here?” And as they read along, and listen to a bit of it, there are fairly good chances of flying solo soon.
  3. Incorporate reading as a tool in daily activities: Involving product names, instructions, labels, and signs as a habit of understanding any item. Reading out news information such as weather forecast, the day’s significance, or maybe writing one good thought in the morning can be great starters. Another useful consideration is the written time-table for the day. The more creativity is put in the making of it, the closer the attention they are going to pay to it.
  4. Beginning with Sentence Level Comprehension: This goes great with attention issues. Reading out aloud needs to be followed immediately with “Wh” questions to get the one-worded or phrased out responses. This also helps in functional grammar as each question is related to the different parts of the speech.
  5. Written Instructions for assisted or independent activity: This actually works out well once it is demonstrated by the adults maybe for reading out the recipe for a new snack or assembling a new toy using the instruction booklet. The key here is to add more value and purpose to the skill of reading things. Making a sandwich or some instant food or a simple craft activity can be great ideas to put into the daily routine. Simple experiments with picture aids are also interesting ways.
  6. Priming up the new vocabulary: This is a helpful step for budding readers. The new sight-words and the unseen words are the ones to be taken up before introducing a new piece of text. It is also helpful in classroom settings as the children can be more prepared and hence aid to confidence. Many teachers prefer handing out a wordlist before beginning something new.Teaching Reading Comprehension
  7. Strengthening Listening Comprehension: Very often listening comprehension is at a better level than that of reading, as reading takes much more effort. Comprehending a smoothly read text is much easier than a struggled and bumpy reading. In fact, some children do not like the way they end up reading, and hence give up on understanding it further. It’s great to read along slowly, or simply listen to it being readout. It is not a wise thing to pile up both reading and understanding as two simultaneous tasks, especially for someone who is already struggling with reading.
  8. Engaging in Experiential Understanding:
  • Acting out practically what has been readout
  • Observing the same concept if possible
  • Putting down observations in words.
  • Journaling
  • Visualizing statements through drawings

These are indeed indirect ways to improve understanding, but they complete the learning circle and hence balance the literacy skills with holistic learning.

Despite all the tried and tested methods, sometimes children refuse to accept books and dread reading/writing activities. There can be specific learning difficulties at the root or an overriding learning modality that urges creativity in other directions.

 

It is good to know that literacy is a wonderful thing and surely it is essential but, it demands efforts and hence suppresses creativity to some extent in very young children. On the contrary, some children are eagerly ready, to begin with, reading and writing and enjoy it from a very young age.

Considering the diversity and accepting it fully, reading comprehension can leap up from age five onwards and can be moderated with the reading exposure available for the child’s surroundings.

 

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