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10 Simple Reading Comprehension Strategies for Elementary School Children

Recently there has been a wave of panic among parents and teachers as a result of the falling standards of literacy in schools, and this has been brought to bear in a number of government-led reports and investigations in the English speaking world. One of the principal concerns is the abysmal standard of reading comprehension among elementary school children.

This article outlines ten simple and easy-to-implement reading comprehension activities for parents of elementary-level students.

1. Ask simple questions while you read with or to your child

Be sure to ask your child questions about what has happened in a passage of the storybook you are reading, such as “What do you think the rabbit will do now?” or “Why do you think the little boy went inside the house?” This is a great way to check that your child is staying focussed on the story, and is aware of what is happening.

2. Use prediction strategies

Ask your child what she thinks is going to happen next in the story. You can do this at the end of each page, or at the end of a chapter for older readers.

3. Encourage your child to relate what is happening in the story to his own life

This is a good way to enable your child to relate to the events of the story, and a powerful strategy for boosting reading comprehension, as we are always more stimulated when we are affected personally. If, for example, there is a pet in the story, you can ask “You have a pet as well, don’t you. What’s his name? What type of animal is he?”

4. Use the ‘retelling strategy’

Ask your child to tell you what has happened in the story. This can be either verbal or written, and can be done either at the end of the story or at the end of each section.

5. Choose reading materials that you know your child will be interested in

If, for instance, your child has shown an interest in tractors or cars, try reading a storybook that features these vehicles.

6. Use contextual clues to help your child

If your child is having problems deciphering the meaning of certain words, use contextual clues within the story to help. This will teach your child a valuable skill, while allowing her to explore new boundaries in a comfortable and safe environment.

7. Adopt the ‘Main Idea’ reading comprehension strategy

Often a new storybook can seem overwhelming to a young reader, as there are so many new concepts, themes, words and situations to digest. It is always a good idea to encourage your child to see the bigger picture when you read to him, as this will give him a framework to pin the rest of the story to.

8. Alternate reading hard and easy texts with your child

Similarly, re-read known and loved stories as well as new books each day. The new books will challenge her, while re-reading the old stories will nurture her reading confidence and provide a safety blanket of familiarity.

9. Read aloud to your child

Language means more to young children when they hear it than when they read it. Listening to a story that is being read to them enables children to understand how intonation and patterns of language can affect the meaning of a story. It also gives them access to a world that only more adept readers would be able to otherwise enjoy.

10. Read with your child every day

This is possibly the most important point of all. Set aside a regular time each day to read with your child. It doesn’t have to be for more than 15 minutes, but the benefits from setting aside a bit of time to read with your little one can be amazing. Create a cosy nook on the couch, bring along a few loved toys, cuddle up with a favourite book and, most importantly, have some fun. If you don’t treat it as a chore, neither will your child.

 
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