Reading for meaning, or reading comprehension, refers to an understanding of what’s been read, and is one of the five essential elements of reading instruction.
Parents play an important role in developing their child’s comprehension skills, which takes practice and patience. To better understand whether your child is reading for meaning, you can start by asking yourself the following questions:
1. Is my child paying attention? Ask your child literal comprehension questions, which are questions that require an answer that can be found directly in the text, for example, ‘What was the rabbit’s friend called?’ This will encourage your child to pay close attention to key information in the text. Reading Eggs is carefully designed to build reading comprehension in young children (see how it works with a free trial here).
2. Can they draw conclusions based on what they have read? Ask inferential comprehension questions, which are a bit trickier and require answers that are less obvious. These questions encourage your child to draw conclusions based on what they have read, for example, ‘Why do you think the rabbit felt afraid to go into the garden?’
3. Are they asking questions? Proficient readers know when they understand what they read and when they do not. If your child is reading for meaning, they may sometimes ask questions about what certain things mean. This shows that they are thinking about what they are reading.
4. Are they able to stop and answer questions? Asking your child questions helps them focus their attention and think actively about what they are reading. Ask questions about the text while you are reading together, such as, ‘Why do you think the wolf did that?’ or ‘How do you think the little boy feels now?’
5. Can they make connections between what they’ve read and what they already know? Observe whether your child is able to relate what they are reading to prior experiences and knowledge. They may even make connections between what they are reading currently and what they have already read in the past.
6. Can they make predictions? Stop periodically while reading to encourage your child to predict what might happen next. Readers who read for meaning are able to take what they have already read and make predictions about the story before it ends.
7. Can they visualise and describe what they’ve read with few illustrations? After reading a text, ask your child to summarise what they’ve read or illustrate the events. Practise doing this with books that include little or no illustrations.
8. Can they support their interpretations or ideas about what they’re reading by giving examples? Talk to your child about the text and ask them how they think or feel about it. Ask them to give you examples in the text to support their interpretations, for example, ‘What part of the story makes you think that?’
9. Can they describe the character’s moods and motives? Ask your child to talk about how the characters in the text might be feeling, or why they have taken specific courses of action.
10. Can they identify the main idea in the text? When you’ve finished reading, ask your child to tell you what happened in their own words. Observe whether they can determine the most important information in the text.
Reading for meaning is a big part of learning to develop a lifelong love of reading. To help your child build their comprehension skills, read our previous blog posts Building Comprehension Skills and Overcoming Comprehension Difficulties.
Visit www.readingeggs.com to see how your child can learn how to read while having fun with Reading Eggs!