Building Comprehension Skills

If children do not understand what they are reading, they are not really reading. Children with good comprehension skills are active readers who are always thinking. When they read, it is almost like they are having an ongoing conversation with the author. Here are some hints on ways to help children improve their comprehension:

1. When children are reading fiction, the keys to understanding are knowing who the characters are, what problems they are trying to solve, and when and where the story is taking place. If children are having difficulty understanding fiction, parents should talk with them about the key elements of the story. Reading the same story helps parents know what the story is about.

2. When children are reading nonfiction, they need to establish a purpose for reading the material before they even begin. Parents can help by asking them what they expect to learn before they begin to read a short passage, and ask what they have learned after reading it. Once children become familiar with asking and answering their own questions, their comprehension will improve.

3. Read selections aloud to your children and pause frequently to tell them what you are thinking. You can mention such things as what you believe will be happening next or how what is happening relates to what you know. This will show them how to read for understanding.